How do you explain D-Day? Or Do You
Plug in the beginning of Saving Private Ryan and call it good?
Say it was the Greatest Generation just doing what make them great?
Every anniversary drives D-Day further away from American youth, including those in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. If they’re not boomers, they’re youths.
Do you leave D-Day to teachers, books, or BS artists known as enactors in period uniforms? Nothing wrong with that, but teachers are too busy, books are slanted. BS artists have more interesting things to do than hit WWII history.
They do the Civil War very well.
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How many WWII narratives begin with Pearl Harbor and end with nuclear bombs? Maybe they add D-Day and Nazi death camps to round out the era and call it good.
That’s not good enough. Take a longer view. Start with the uniform. Every image seems like grizzled vets heading into battle.
If you’ve seen high school football, if you’ve had kids play, then you know the difference between seeing them in uniform and out. On the field they look the same as college and pro players. It’s the helmets and shoulder pads that make them look so formidable. Back home they’re just young men.
Those are the same faces as the helmet wearing men running off Higgins Boats in France. They were never the same by the end of the war.
How do you explain what those men felt on the way to battle? How did they force themselves to act like soldiers when it looked so bad for them?
Call it bravery, or good training, or maybe call it what it was. They’d traveled very far and couldn’t stop until they were done. Whether it was Omaha Beach or a Berlin street, they didn’t stop.
Marines say they had D-Days all the way across the Pacific, and they’re right. Avoiding the landing planned for the Japanese mainland saved them from a promised disaster.
Take a moment on these anniversaries to reflect on D-Day, on the Inchon invasion during the Korean War, on young boomers leaping from helicopters all across Vietnam.
Then take a moment to give thanks to the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re not done and won’t stop until they are.
They know D-Day better than anyone. It’s the life they live.