On June 6, I watched and read the moving accounts surrounding the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy, France, and the beginning of the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. Like millions of others, I have been touched by this event and the sacrifice of so many.

On this same day, I worked with the students, volunteers and teachers at Reiche Community School, both planting vegetable gardens and taking care of the apple and peach trees we planted two years ago.

Through their AmeriCorps personnel, Laura Fralich at Reiche and Riverton schools and Laura Mailander at East End Community School, Cultivating Community has provided wonderful assistance and spark to enable us to plant fruit orchards and vegetable gardens at the three schools.

On this iconic day, we worked together: children of every shape, size, age and ethnic, cultural and racial background, all in it together. I was struck by this remarkable diversity, cooperation, enthusiasm and the pure pleasure being experienced.

It was an “a-ha” moment for me. That terrible, yet incredible day 70 years ago began the process that enabled such a day as today at Reiche to happen. Had Nazism not been defeated, “racial purity,” the byword of that terrible regime, would have become an ugly model throughout the world.

Immigration would have been stopped in its tracks, colonial oppressed peoples would never find democracy and freedom, segregation of races in this country would continue to be the norm. And most of all, these dear children would not be here enriching our communities, schools and neighborhoods.

It has been 70 years, and it will take many more 70-year increments to reach the fulfillment these men and women died for. But my, what a beginning!

C. Waite Maclin