It's truly a monumental day as those who keep to the daf hayomi schedule have finished another cycle. Not much I can say that has not been said by others. The gemara says that Abayei would make a yom tov when a talmid would finish a masechta. R' Tzadok is medayek that it doesn't say he would make a party or a seudah -- it says he made a yom tov, meaning there was a certain "chalos" to the day. The Munkatcher goes so far as to say (and I have seen this elsewhere as well) that on a day when a siyum is made no tachanun is recited. So it is a special day today for Klal Yisrael, and considering how many days of sorrow we have, it's nice to have a day like today once in awhile.
I have been meaning for months to write a post on the topic of learning for ba'ali batim but never seem to get to it. If you look through the letters and writings of gedolei yisrael of this generation (e.g. the letters of the Steipler, R' Shach, the Chazon Ish) and previous generations everyone has their 2 cents as to what the derech halimud should be, but it seems to me that most of the advice given is geared to bnei yeshiva. Let's be real -- anyone who is at work 8-10 hours a day + commuting time does not really have time for a bekiyus seder and an iyun seder and a halacha seder. That may work if you have two or three sedorim to spend in a beis medrash, but not when you only have b'koshi an hour or two. What should the program be for the rest of us not in yeshiva? I have not seen any gedolim address that issue. Daf yomi is an attempt to provide an answer. It is a limud for the "everyman," so that knowledge of kol hatorah is something possible even for a regular Jew to attain. True, it is very superficial knowledge, but is is valuable anyway and serves its purpose.
Aside from knowledge for its own sake, a tremendous byproduct of the daf is the sense of chashivus hatorah it engenders. A shul or community that has a daf seder / shiur is making a statement: We hold Torah dear. Is there any more important message than that? When a family sees a father (and in some cases, a mother) who has dedicated himself to learn shas, you don't think that makes an impression?
Y'yasher kochacham to all the lomdei hadaf.