Monday, June 01, 2009

Ironic Anniversary

It is ironic — at least, in my opinion — that an Air France plane en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean and presumably crashed into the sea today.

I find it ironic because it was on this date in 1943 that the Nazis shot down BOAC Flight 777, killing actor Leslie Howard when the plane crashed into the Bay of Biscay, off the coasts of Spain and France.

More than 65 years after the plane was shot down, there are still several theories why it happened. Some people think the Nazis believed (mistakenly) that Winston Churchill was on board. Others believe that Howard and some of the other passengers had been involved in spying activities for the British. It's even possible that Howard was targeted because he was Jewish.

The reason for the incident probably isn't important at this point. What is important is that Howard was really at the height of his career, just a few years removed from his performance as Ashley Wilkes in "Gone With the Wind" and with several other successful movie performances in his portfolio.

Howard's death was an occasion for intense public grieving in the midst of a war that went on to claim millions of lives.