SURRATT: In a time of historic anniversaries, take time to embrace your own
Published 8:00 am Friday, June 9, 2023
It pretty much passed by with barely a notice.
Tuesday was the 79th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, more commonly known as “D-Day,” when allied forces invaded the continent of Europe in Normandy, France, marking a major turning point in World War II and the start of the end of the Third Reich.
Remembering D-Day, which this year was on the exact day of the week — Tuesday — when the invasion actually occurred, set me to thinking that over the next few years, we are going to observe a number of anniversaries tied to historic events.
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Presently, we’re observing the 160th anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg, which ended on July 4, 1863. In several more months, we’ll observe the 70th anniversary of the 1953 tornado that ravaged Vicksburg. On Nov. 22, we observe the 60th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
In 2024, we observe the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion and the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The following year, 2025, includes the 160th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. We have the 80th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bombs “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, and the surrender of Germany and Japan to end World War II.
I list all these anniversaries not to fill readers’ heads with what some might call useless trivia, but to call attention to the fact that history is all around us and it’s not just the past. Please pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV, log on to the Internet — history is occurring before our eyes; we’re living it every day.
And that brings me back to Vicksburg.
I have never seen a city or county that is so surrounded by history — not just the Civil War but music, culture and technology. And one thing that surprises me is talking with visitors or people who are familiar with our area and hearing them say that residents don’t seem to take much interest in their area’s history.
I recall receiving an email from a former classmate in junior high school who said he spoke at a local Civil War roundtable here and was surprised at how poorly attended it was.
I understand how easy it is to live in an area and take something for granted because you’re exposed to it all the time. But this is our heritage, whether you are a native or someone who has lived in the area for several years. It’s something that needs to be embraced, enjoyed and remembered.
This year, which marks the start of several years of anniversaries, get out and reclaim your history; go to the local museums, tour the Vicksburg National Military Park, go by the USS Cairo and visit the Cairo Museum or take a downtown walking trail. This is our history and we should embrace it and pass it on to others.