One thing that is uniform amongst all genres is backstory. All characters have a past. They may not know it, or we may not want to reveal it, but there is one. While authors sometimes have their characters participate in a well-known event (such as Hurricanes Catrina and Sandy or watching a horse race in the Belmont Stakes for the Triple Crown) that is not the only way events, both national and worldwide can be brought into a characters past.
June 6, 2014 is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied forces invasion of Normandy. For those writing in a future setting, the character could find an ancestor's personal letter written after the event. The loss of a family member as the numbers of the members of the greatest generation dwindle might be another item of backstory. The point is that the character does not have to be the one experiencing the event for it to be part of his or her past.
There doesn't even have to be any personal relationship at all. The character might witness an elderly man riding up the street in a convertible or be stuck at a traffic light as a funeral goes by. An even more haunting usage is to be walking past as cemetery as the bugler plays the final tribute.
As you go through your daily life, keep an eye (or ear) open for celebrations, anniversaries, and commemorations. You never know what will tickle your interest.
Till next time ~ Helen
For more information on D-Day, look up the National World War II Museum or visit dday-overlord.com. Information the the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord can be found at www.dday-overlord.com/eng/commemorations_normandy_2014.htm.