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Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day (65th anniversary)

65 years ago today Americans, English, and Canadian forces stormed the beaches of Normandy France, sacrificing much and engaging much, putting their lives on the line to protect freedom.

It is not as important that these men died to protect our freedom as it is that they killed to protect freedom. The sacrifice of life is tragic, important, and worth speaking of, but that they put themselves at risk following duty and proving themselves to be great men was predetermined. Sacrifice of life alone means nothing unless it is in the pursuit of a greater cause, and as that pursuit is especially empowered. That is the difference between lip service preceding death and true self-sacrifice. Every man who died on those beaches is one who made it possible for inevitable victory. I believe every tragedy is a stepping stone towards the victory over horror and tyranny.

These men, better than I, took action to insure what we take for granted, and what I use here to write and speak and declare. All speech, especially political speech, is stated as free because men stood for something deliberate and special.

So I cannot minimize the gallant deaths of good Americans, but I will maximize the acts and impacts of those who lived long enough to make us win. I paraphrase, or quote
No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
- George S. Patton
War is won because one side chose to do terrible things to the other side longer and harder. Victory comes with a prize but the price we pay is not a moral compromise but that of a man's own ease of thought. Peace is a purchased through acts of violence. Modern men and classical men alike will acknowledge that, if they think. Post-modern men will not; I have trouble calling them that. Because doing violence upon our fellow men, even for the best of causes, can make heavy burdens, I cannot help but thank and think gratefully of our old warriors from so long ago.

Enough of my philosophizing; there is more.

General Eisenhower commanded the invasion, and he delivered his orders.

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

[photograph: General Eisenhower 'Ike' D-Day message handed out to D-Day troops. Courtesy: Gary Ames.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have
striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The
hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on
other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war
machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of
Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well
equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of
1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats,
in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their
strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home
Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions
of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to
Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great
and noble undertaking.


SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower
That was a present tense viewpoint, looking towards the future.

Looking back was President Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day. The text of his speech is here.



President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's thoughts of the impending invasion consisted of a prayer.



Historian Newt Gingrich describes it as
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt leads the nation in prayer on June 6, 1944 as the Greatest Generation launched its mightiest battle of the Second World War.
There is to more to see than I have time to direct or examine. Nothing I can do is quite sufficient.

Now for a bit of irony. On this, the 65th anniversary of D-Day, something which should be a national focus today, and a European focus, and a world focus, so I demand reverence, Google commemorates
That's right, Google celebrates Tetris, the (25th) anniversary of the puzzle block arcade/video/console/TV/computer game from Russia. What a bunch of jerks.

Maybe the brief words of Monica Crowley will put it in perspective.

There is also a D-Day Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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