Many have let down Greatest Generation
“God, give me guts,” uttered a D-Day soldier, as recounted by a survivor in a recent 70th anniversary televised documentary. And he did, as reflected in the exceptional bravery of soldiers, sailors, airmen and paratroopers with the massive 1944 Normandy invasion. Though casualties were high, it was the largest military invasion in history and the war’s turning point, the result of Allied Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s strategy and those troops’ tenacity. They fought the Nazis’ formidable tanks and guns, backed by stalwart U.S. air power.
My uncle served in the entire European Theater of war under Gen. Omar Bradley as an airplane mechanic; his unit’s duty was to keep those planes flying, and it did. Each service member had one goal: victory. Equally brave were the photojournalists who shot film footage alongside those in battle, a lasting visual tribute that history should not forget these noble sacrifices.
D-Day survivors said they fought for democracy and liberty, meaning civilized liberty. Their social heirs, many of today’s men, take their own version of liberty by their numerous assaults on women on our college campuses, military bases and in homes, or their abuse of young children, exhibiting toxic narcissism and shameful cowardice – not “guts,” but power over those physically weaker. Ultimately, why did our valiant soldiers sacrifice life and limb? For whom? For what?
Military historian S.L.A. Marshall wrote of these troops as those “who on that day burned with a flame bright beyond common understanding.” They not only saved Western civilization for the deeply grateful and humbled, but unknowingly made one important example: a common man’s ability to be great (Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation), manifested not by selfish power, but by selfless courage.