D-Day and the Greatest Generation

On this night seventy years ago my grandfather strapped a parachute to his back, climbed aboard a plane and flew across the English Channel to the skies above Nazi-occupied France. Then he jumped out of the plane into the darkness. He was twenty-one years old. His actions that night, coupled with the bloodshed that followed the next day during the D-Day invasion, saved the world from the unspeakable horror of Adolf Hitler’s Germany. My grandfather, and all the other soldiers on the plane with him that night, knew that their chances of survival were slim. But they had guts, and they knew their sacrifice was worth it. My grandfather’s generation knew evil when they saw it, and they knew what had to be done to stop it.

U.S. Army Airborne Troops on June 5, 1944

As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, we should all take a moment to thank the remaining veterans for their service and their sacrifice on that bloody day. And we should also apologize to them. Yes, you read that right. We should apologize to them.

Why should we do that, you ask? Why should we apologize?

We should all apologize to the D-Day veterans because collectively as a nation we have pissed away everything they fought and died for.

Say what you will about all of the wars since World War II, but there is little doubt that World War II was the most righteous war that we have ever fought. Never has so much evil walked the face of the earth. The American servicemen and women that defeated Adolf Hitler and lived to tell about it came back to America and prospered. And for a time, America prospered. But look at us now.

The great city of Detroit that once built all the trucks, Jeeps and tanks that were used to defeat the German army is now an urban wasteland full of abandoned homes and factories. Feral dogs wander the neighborhoods where the workers used to live and people are fleeing the city in droves. No one in their right mind wants to live there.

Many of the steel mills in the city of Pittsburgh, like their auto factory counterparts in Detroit, now sit abandoned. The nation that once built a navy so mighty that it sank the German and Japanese fleets can now barely make enough steel to build a bridge. When we finally have to replace the Golden Gate Bridge we’ll probably have to buy the steel from China.

The textile mills that once produced millions of uniforms for our troops during World War II now sit abandoned as well. Try to find a shirt made in America. I’m from the part North Carolina where many of these mills are located, and every time I travel back there to visit family I am dismayed when I see the boarded-up mills. It is a sad, sad sight, let me tell you.

A German tank commander was quoted after the war saying that the German Panzer tank was far superior to the American Sherman tank, but since there were a hundred Shermans to every Panzer the superiority of the Panzer was of little benefit. Not only did we outfight the Germans, we outproduced them as well. America was the arsenal of democracy. Now we are the arsenal of excuses.

And what about us, the people of America? What have we become? What have we done with the freedom earned for us on D-Day?

We have never been so divided.

If someone had told those brave souls crawling up the beach at Normandy that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be at each other’s throats over everything from politics, illegal immigration, national debt or whether or not the government can listen to our phone conversations, does anyone honestly think that those kids would have still charged into the German machinegun fire? Of course they would have. Their only mistake that day was assuming that we would one day know what to do with the freedom that they were fighting and dying for.

The Definition of Courage

Contrary to the wars we fight today, during World War II the entire nation was in on the effort. If you couldn’t serve in the military you worked in a defense plant. Even the Boy Scouts collected old tires for the war effort. People sacrificed, did without and the nation was united in the effort to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. As for the war we are fighting today, most Americans couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map and have no idea who our enemy is. And of the people that do know who our enemy is many of them show sympathy for him. They blame America for the actions of America’s enemies.

We have used the freedom earned by the bloodshed of D-Day to become lazy as a nation. Our teenagers don’t work, our college grads live in the basement, our national debt is approaching 20 trillion dollars, our cities are going bankrupt, our politics are poisoned beyond repair, and most of our jobs have been shipped overseas. We believe the lies we are told by our politicians, convincing ourselves that the other side of the political isle is to blame for all the problems. We do all of this while walking around like zombies texting on our cellphones.

I am a Marine Corps veteran. I spent four years behind a howitzer to do my small part to keep this nation free. My sacrifices pale in comparison to the sacrifices made by my grandfather and his fellow soldiers when they jumped into the darkness on June 5th, 1944. I have always believed that America is the last, best hope on Earth for freedom. If we fall, then eternal darkness will ensue. Think about that the next time you vote.

There is a sign in many of the military cemeteries where World War II soldiers are buried that reads:

When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow we gave our today.

If you really want to pay tribute to the D-Day veterans, do something with the tomorrow that they fought and died to preserve for you. Stop complaining about what you don’t have. Stop believing that someone else owes you a living. Stop believing the lies that come out of Washington. Pick yourself up and remind yourself that the freedom you have was bought and paid for in blood seventy years ago.

If those that fought and died on D-Day believed that they were dying for our tomorrow, then the least we can do is use our tomorrow to save this great nation called America. Because regardless of whether or not some people believe it, America really is the last, best hope for freedom on this planet.

And if you’re one of those people that think America is the problem,  just keep on doing what you’re doing and you’ll find out soon enough just how dark a world without America will be.

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