Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of D Day. To those of us who had fathers in World War II, it’s hard to believe it was so long ago.
That’s not a reason to forget it.
My father was not involved in the storming of the beach at Normandy. He was in the Merchant Marines in the Atlantic, a dangerous assignment as well. I did have an uncle who was D Day plus 5. He really didn’t talk much about it or about fighting in the Battle of the Bulge or about liberating a concentration camp. These Americans did not seek glory. They sought to do their job and return home to a protected, free country.
If you ever go to New Orleans, visit the D Day Museum. At least that’s what it was originally called. Now it’s the National World War II Museum or some such thing. I have visited it at least three times and every time it is very moving. They use the experiences of everyday Americans to tell the story. People at home, soldiers in the field, people in the Air Force describe what they saw and felt.
You can’t help comparing that time in America to today. By contrast, today does not fare well. The United States of the late 30s and 1940 had not prepared for any kind of conflict and had let the military slide. We’re doing the same thing which, after their experience, is unforgivable. The young men of that America did not want to go to war any more than today’s youth, but they did it. Today it would be hard to find enough men to go to two fronts as they did. The propaganda that the Germans and Japanese spread and the pacifism of Europeans parallels that time. Only today the propaganda comes from Washington, D.C., not Berlin, Tokyo or London.
Most of the men of D Day have passed on. Given the state of this country now, perhaps it is a good thing that they have not lived to see what we have become.