Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day


Last night, at my favorite beer-and-burger joint, they showed Saving Private Ryan on the TV. One of my childhood buddies (whose dad served in mop-up operations in the Philippines) had been urging me for years to see the movie, but warned me that the first twenty minutes were hard to take.

He understated. It was gut-wrenching.

I don't have the words to express my immense gratitude to those men at Omaha Beach, or to my dad, or to my uncle who was a gunner on a baby flattop at Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa; to my buddy's dad, to my six buddies who served in Vietnam (and four were killed there including one I baby-sat when he was a kid); to all who served and are serving now.

Thanks also to "V for Victory" and Fr. Z. and other bloggers for remembering, and reminding us.

I have four books about D-Day, and in one of them is this passage, which I think is relevant to the USA in 2009 (the emphasis is mine):

"The opinion of world history has ususally disregarded the momentary tendency to condemn a defeated enemy. No one thought of calling to account the soldiers of the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. No one indicted the marshals, officers, and men of Napoleon and of France, though Napoleon was decried as an aggressor by the coalition. The mass executions by the Duke of Alva in 1568 and the behavior of the northern states after the American Civil War are only exceptions to the rule. An officer corps that had been developed to serve a monarchist form of government was not adaptable to an eventual coup d'├ętat or even to a critical attitude towards the head of state. This was a source of strength as long as the Army was commanded by a monarch responsible only to God. It was weakness when a godless man assumed control of the Army's destiny."

Author: Lieutenent General Hans Speidel, chief of staff to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Invasion 1944, New York: Paperback Library, 1972

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