In our ever-increasingly fractured nation, it is important today to recall a time when High Country communities linked arms and hearts to join with a nation in a single-minded pursuit and common cause.

The June 8, 1944, editions of the Watauga Democrat and West Jefferson’s Skyland Post — the forerunner of the Ashe Post & Times — reported that Operation Overlord, codename for the Battle of Normandy, had launched in France two days earlier. The joint mission between the Allied Forces to liberate Western Europe from Nazi Germany would prove to be a turning point in the war, even as President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned against complacency and over-confidence. As much as families in Watauga and Ashe counties might have hoped, the “war is not over by any means,” the president said.

Unless you are in your early 80s or older, you would not have witnessed firsthand the outpouring of nationalism — our local newspapers evidenced things such as the war efforts, the commendations of local service personnel and the universal grief for those who would not return — pervasive throughout the country.

How far we have fallen from this, how quickly we forget and how sad that it might take something such as a world war, a 9-11 or pandemic to join our communities, our neighborhoods, our families.

Even if just for few moments, it is not too late to recapture this sentiment. Although you may not have been alive during World War II, both Watauga and Ashe counties have superlative veterans’ monuments that are easily accessible. It is there, at least, we can find common ground.

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