Sunday, June 06, 2010

D-Day 6 June 1944

On the sixth of June, 1944, in the early morning hours the allied forces launched what was considered by some as the last great hope—the Normandy Invasion. Failure would likely consign the whole world to Nazi domination for the foreseeable future. Success would only give a chance to continue to fight.

Ronald Reagan paid tribute to the Army Rangers on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day in 1984. In his own inimitable way, he reminds us of that day.
Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.

And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."
Reagan spoke of the "the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt."

These steeps walls are now eroding—some 33 feet since D-Day. And with it, one wonders if the memory is eroding.

World War II veterans are being buried daily, and with it go many of their stories. We are giving birth to a generation who will never know a veteran of World War II. And it is a generation who will be tempted to forget the cost of apathy or isolation.

It is easy to think that we can negotiate with dictators. Neville Chamberlain would have made a great modern day politician when he claimed triumphantly, "Peace in our time." Over sixty million people were the price to pay for that peace. That's 60,000,000. 3-4% of the world's 1939 population.

It is easy to think we can let someone else solve problems. But future generations would do well to remember what happens when you sit idly by and let a madman gain control because they live halfway around the world.

Let us not forget the men who, sixty-six years ago, saw their last sunrise, who climbed over the side of their ships and loaded into the landing craft for the sake of a land they did not live, for the sake of a people whose language they did not speak, for the sake of a future they would not own. 

1 comment:

dangreenfield said...

Thanks for this, Larry. During D-Day my grandpa was a rear gunner on an LST. Like so many, he never talked about it. I'm thankful to God for how he fulfilled his duty to his country, family, and church.