We are not a political blog in the partisan sense of the word; however, we are a literary blog which delves into the various genres in the broad spectrum of literature and writing. We will sometimes post writings about topics that may raise strong opinions. It is with that in mind that I wrote this essay to both memorialize the D-Day heroes and provoke philosophical thought about who they were, and who we—their progeny—have become. Who were they—our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers that fought in WWII? What did they fight against and why? How were they our benefactors?
Today marks the 72nd anniversary of D-Day on June 6th, 1944. To this day, it remains the largest amphibious assault in human history, and one of the biggest military invasions in the history of warfare.
I remember sometime in June of 1999, about a year after the release of Saving Private Ryan (Paramount Pictures, 1998), I made my two oldest children, my son Zack who was 8 at the time, and my daughter Macy who was 10, sit down and watch the first twenty minutes of the movie—the beach assault portion. I would imagine that in today’s overly sensitive and politically correct environment, I would be considered a child abuser for exposing them to such horrific battle scenes. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing or not; however, I wanted them both to experience what those young men did that day, on that beach, so far from home, where many of them died a horrible and frightening death. It worked. My gamble paid off. Although they were at times very shaken by the violent and brutal scenes, scenes that are described by surviving veterans of that battle as being as close to the real battle as they had witnessed since that infamous day, they walked away understanding D-Day better than other children their age.
All my life I have been emotional on the anniversary of D-Day. I had great uncles that fought in WWII, and I remember as a young boy listening to their stories about the “Krauts” and the “Japs.” I played with Army toys and little plastic soldiers back in the late 60’s and early 70’s that were depictions of the great war. No one ever spoke ill of those men, that war, or the price Americans paid to fight the rise of genocide and tyranny in Asia and Europe. I have no wish to offend anyone; having said that, anyone that does not understand the reasons why we did some of the things we did at that time, to win that war, simply does not care to take an educated and in-depth look at the gruesome fact of what people will do to one another when human life has no value in certain societies.
D-Day was the desperate push to end the decade-long world war that had laid waste to half the globe. It was an assault on the tyranny that threatened the Western World and the civil societies that were the progeny of the Enlightenment. Emperor Hirohito’s Japan was a brutal regime that had no regard for human life. Imperial Japan raped, pillaged, and plundered China, the Philippines, and Korea for centuries. China still hates Japan to this very day. Their attack on Pearl Harbor was unprovoked and cowardly in nature. The battle of Iwo Jima showed the Americans that Japanese soldiers and citizens would fight to a bloody last stand with a fanaticism unmatched; hence, President Truman decided to drop the A-bomb and save millions of American lives that would have been lost in a ground assault on Japan. My generation, and those before us, never questioned that decision because we were given the history, and therefore, we understand the horrible context that made that decision necessary.
Hitler and Mussolini were Fascists and National Socialists that ruled with an iron fist. The world began to witness police states with a total lack of regard for human life. Although Hitler called Russia an enemy in the end and said he hated Communism—what was the difference? The Western World was fighting a movement, first created in the writings of Karl Marx, that promised a utopian society of radical egalitarianism that is not possible in a world of flawed human beings. Western culture promoted freedom and equality under the law. Marx and all of the different variations of his economic theories advanced state-run economic equality. Yet, it never answered who would run these utopian states, or if the leadership would also remain poor and undefiled by greed and power. Human history answers that question—all of the societies that have tried forms of Marxism have failed and stained the Earth with innocent blood. So, America and her allies had to fight. They had no choice. But, unlike today, they fought to win and to win decisively.
Those young men that climbed those cliffs, that stormed those beaches under a wall of steel in the form of bullets and shrapnel, and that died, in many cases, to consume the enemies’ ammo so that the next wave of soldiers might have a chance, are the reason we have any and all of the freedoms we have today.
Do we care about the millions of human beings that died fighting the forces of evil in the Axis alliance? As I woke up this morning, I wondered how many young people know or care about the Americans and their allies that stopped the Western Civilized World from being extinguished 72 years ago.
The modern world seems to shout for equality across the globe. Their cries seem reasonable, morally superior, and a solution to all the world’s ills; however, is it the various forms of government that are the problem in the world? Is it lack of equality that breeds violence, greed, murder, theft, brutality, religious bigotry, racism, and all of the various forms of evil that exist? Or, is it far more simple than all of that? Could it simply be that the human heart is evil above all things?
Three human heart beats—Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito—caused a death toll estimated to have ranged between 60 to 80 million people during WWII. Three human hearts, and their ideologies, which were totalitarian and did not regard human rights or human life as important, contributed to the bloodiest century in human history. Think about it as we remember D-Day and the men and women that died to stop tyranny.