Barack Obama was in France today, honoring the memory of D–Day as other American presidents did before him.
Obama views himself as a student of history, so his handling of the 65th anniversary of one of the most crucial events of the 20th century was important. D–Day was much like Gettysburg, in my opinion. It did not end the conflict, but it decided which side would benefit from the tide of events for the rest of the war.
It was the turning point, the legendary "fork in the road."
Even though it has been 65 years since D–Day, many who lived through it are living still, and they remember it and return to Normandy (some of them on several such occasions now) seeking, like Private Ryan in the attached film clip, some confirmation that they have been worthy of the sacrifices that made it possible for them to live full lives.
As even his critics have acknowledged, Obama is a talented speaker. So there were great expectations for his words today.
He did not disappoint.
"We live in a world of competing beliefs and claims about what is true. It is a world of varied religions and cultures and forms of government," he said. "In such a world, it is rare for a struggle to emerge that speaks to something universal about humanity. The Second World War did that."
But, even on a somber occasion, things can go wrong.
CNN's Steve Brusk writes that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown mistakenly called Omaha Beach "Obama Beach."
Would you call that a slip of the tongue? Or a Freudian slip?