September, 29

What D-Day Means

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Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the seaborne invasion of German-occupied Normandy that proved a decisive Allied victory but with 4,414 confirmed dead. D-Day is called such for the same reason H-Hour has its name (and in print both look like a stutter). One might suspect there are also an M-Minute and perhaps an N-Nanosecond but alas …
According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, the redundant abbreviation “designate[s] the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential … When used in combination with figures and plus or minus signs, these terms indicate the length of time preceding or following a specific action.” So, for example, D-3 is when my column was due, but I filed it arrived on D-1.

Keeping with the WW II theme, I told my editor that the column was late because I drafted it on an Enigma encryption machine and then lost the decoder key. To wit, if you’re reading this in English, the code has been cracked. This is good since, existentially speaking, I have little idea what D-Day means, or really, anyday.

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