In September 1944, a kind and gentle Englishman named David Lord died. You probably haven't heard of him.
In August of 2012, a British singer named David Bowie was given tribute at the Olympic Games closing ceremonies. You probably have heard of him.
David Lord was a pilot in the Royal Air force. He flew cargo planes, and on his last day of life was tasked with dropping supplies by parachute to the surrounded troops of the 1st Airborne Division near Arnhem, in Holland. His airplane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and set ablaze. Rather than baling out, he held the burning plane steady until the supplies could be dropped. Then, he was too low to jump, and he (along with most of his crew) died.
David Bowie...well, we all know David Bowie! Pop icon of the 60s and 70s, songs like...uh...can't remember but...uh...I'd probably remember if I heard one. On an Oldies station, of course. But I remember his album covers! Especially the one with the dog, 'cause I like dogs.
The point is that these are both people from the English history. David Bowie is closer to us in time, but not that much closer. Ask your kids.
The choice of who we honor at events like the Closing Ceremonies is a sign of who we think we are. I have nothing against Mr. Bowie, but the memory of these large public events is part of our cultural legacy, it's what we thought was important.
And, frankly, I think that honoring the decision to sacrifice one's chance to live so that others could get the supplies they needed to survive is one of the most meaningful gifts we can leave for generations to come.
It says...no matter who you are, we're in this together, and you won't be left forgotten. Our tradition, our honor, is come back for the lost and surrounded, even though we perish.