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Trump will try to mimic Reagan at the D-Day beaches – but he will fail

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They have come for a last look. As the veterans of D-Day gather for the commemorative events in Portsmouth and Normandy we remember what they did, and we remember especially those who gave everything, never to return. But their numbers sadly decline each year, and soon we will lose that living connection with the terrible events of the Second World War.

The implications of this loss – for our cultural memory, for the anniversary itself – have been pondered for many years. Back in June 1994, the fiftieth anniversary, hundreds of veterans journeyed to the Normandy beaches to remember their fallen friends, but such scenes also suggested something of a last hurrah.

Could it happen again? Was this the final occasion that veterans would gather in such numbers? Now still more years have passed since that grey June morning when an Armada of warships crashed through the swell of the English Channel, delivering their human cargo – the young, the scared, the brave – into history.

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All too soon, there will be none left to return. What then for D-Day? What then for the June anniversary?

In truth, the sombre and solemn features of D-Day anniversaries – the march past of veterans – have long been accompanied by something else: the anniversary as spectacle, the anniversary as political theatre, the anniversary as a stage for oratory........

© Independent