Balloons of the No. 1 Balloon Training Unit at Cardington, October 1940. (Image

I have vague memories of huge barrage balloons hanging in the air

It was a stirring and intriguing 75th anniversary

Today (Thursday, June 6, 2019) is a significant day in Canada’s history.

I am writing this column at the same time as I am watching, with a mixture of sadness and pride, the commemorations at Juno Beach, in France, marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings by the allies in World War II.

As everyone is aware, on that day three-quarters of a century ago, some 14,000 Canadians were involved in the landings on that infamous beach, during which over 350 of our soldiers lost their lives and more than 700 were injured.

The Juno Beach landing was one of five similar assaults in Normandy by Allied troops that kicked off the liberation of France and the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany in the World War.

As many as 5,000 people, including French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, attended the Canadian event last week, which followed another memorial, on Wednesday, held in the U.K., that was attended by world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It was a stirring and intriguing 75th anniversary – marked by the attendance of several veteran survivors of the landing and by the active participation of a large number of young people from all across Canada.

Earlier this morning, I was, by sheer but happy coincidence, looking at a small black and white photograph of my mother, with myself likely aged two and my sister Margaret, aged, three – taken I think around 1942, while (I guess) my father was serving overseas in the British Navy, possibly at that time on a colony cruiser ship named the HMS Gambia.

He was a writer and historian. I always remain proud of his service.

A toddler at the time, I remember little of these early days of that war – but as Ayr, Scotland, my home town, was a western seaport, I do have vague memories of a huge barrage of balloons hanging in the air – from memory or photographs, I cannot tell.

I have always been impressed by annual Armistice Day celebrations, marked by allied countries and forces around the world.

These acts of remembrance are annual parts of modern life, reminding us of more difficult days that brought losses to so many families.

My other activities today so far have been as they always tend to be – frustrating. Daily I get e-mail from a website called “How-to Geek”… it is something I have been looking at for a few years, with the intention of improving my understanding and use of the internet.

Most days I learn very little – hardly the fault of the writers on the website or the e-mail. They just seem to operate at a level or two above my understanding.

They have some really useful and often simplified information that has been useful to me over the years. But lately, like today, well it looked good and of interest – but just did not click…

They explain themselves this way – “We Explain Technology. How-To Geek is an online technology magazine and one of the top 500 websites in the U.S. Since it was created more than a decade ago, the site’s 10,000+ in-depth articles have been read over 1 billion times.

“More than 15 million people read our articles every month. Our readers love How-To Geek because of its unique voice. We’re not a website for geeks—we are the geeks. We’re the people you turn to when your computer isn’t working right, you need to do something technical, or you want to understand the latest gadgets.”

That’s my promo – and no doubt people more familiar with the huge range of computer capabilities will get more out of it than I do. However, it has helped me make better use of photos from my phone, for example.

More frequently, when I get into the details of what they offer I find myself too wary of commitments that may crop up in some step-by-step process.

Commitments often seem to evolve into requests for personal information, credit cards etc….and there I quickly turn off.

The internet is the world’s biggest shopping plaza and I am old fashioned in that I like to see, hold and look at my purchases. I always have and always will.

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