68 years ago today, brave men stormed daunting beaches across Normandy and dropped from the sky, knowing that they would be surrounded by the enemy. Many solemnly waited for the turkey shoot that would occur on Omaha, Juno, Sword, Gold and Utah beaches while others jumped into the dark skies, illuminated only by Nazi tracer bullets and the flaming wreckage of airships filled or half-filled with unlucky heroes. It was a massive undertaking. It was the Allied invasion of Normandy; D-Day.
Today, this staggering display of a resolve to fight for freedom is a distant collective memory. We are losing the members of the often-called “greatest generation”, at an astounding rate. While we relative youngsters fight to bring this country back to the right track, it can be easy to lose sight of what greater men and women than we have wagered. I endure underhanded Liberal tactics and feel exhausted at day’s end. Soldiers of the Second World War endured shellings, bombings, and machinegun fire and never seemed to complain. We must remember the price paid by both those that died and those that survived.
We no longer have ticker-take parades (imagine the environmental hysteria from having wasted that much paper!). MSNBC host Chris Hayes recently claimed that he was “uncomfortable” calling soldiers “heroes” because it was “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.” This week, a peace-loving landlord in Boston refused to rent to a veteran of the Iraq war due to moral/political differences. While these scenarios do not represent the entirety of the American perspective, the fact remains that this country is far too divided on how it feels about its veterans.
Can we not agree on anything anymore? While our political system resides in chaos, can we afford to come apart at the seams, culturally? Nowhere can common ground be found more readily than in a firm agreement that soldiers and veterans warrant our respect, even if we disagree with foreign policy. We may have come a long way from spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam, but is the absence of obscene behavior enough? So long as we have “peace-loving” hypocrites betraying soldiers while claiming to be “for the troops but against the war”, we are a fractured culture in need of a readjusting of our values.
The greatest generation had it right. Despite that everyone was scared, people banded together. Women worked in the factories, children organized tire drives and families abided rationing. Americans today know little of the sacrifice it took to keep this country afloat through two World Wars. We are outwardly cordial to those in the service, but there is an element of undermining of the conflicts in which they fight. We need not bow down before each and every soldier in uniform, we need only agree that we are all on the same side. While it’s okay that some may feel that we ought not be in a fight, we all need to accept that we are and back the play of those doing the fighting.
Today, the 67th anniversary of the D-Day landings, be mindful of the sacrifices made and being made by soldiers. If you find yourself unfamiliar with D-Day (or any aspect of American history), don’t hesitate to pick up a book and educate yourself. And if you know a veteran or soldier, find a way to show appreciation for their service.