Posted: June 10, 2004
The Young American
It's Saturday morning, 06/05/04. Almost 60 years ago 130,000 American, British and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy, France and, in a matter of hours, 10,000 soldiers were dead. What would have happened if they would have failed? If Germany had beat back the invasion, the world would have been a much different place today. Even if it would have just been a set back of several years, consider the possibilities. Germany was very advanced in development of jets and missile technologies as well as atomic. Can you imagine if they'd developed the atomic bomb first? Was timing important?
TV stations are clamoring all over Normandy, thousands of white crosses are all over the networks and old veterans and their families are making the pilgrimage before they die. Ironically, even the president of Germany is coming to lay down a wreath in honor of those veterans and this great event that was D-Day. This will be the first time the Germans attend. They do this now under the banner of another grateful nation that was also liberated. Imagine that! So here we find ourselves, all the great powers of Europe, paying homage to those brave young men that came from far away to give them freedom. Even Germans will bend their knees to honor what the Young American did. The president of Russia will be there too...a country that produced Joseph Stalin, killer of millions of innocent people, all before Hitler was even on the horizon. He also, will pay homage to the Young American.
As this young man made his way up the beach and through Europe, he saw liberty and freedom, democracy, and hope for the future, in the faces left behind. This scene was played out over and over, as he made his way to the next town, the next battle. Seeing things along the way that were unimaginable to him, concentration camps, small towns massacred by the SS, mass graves...towns completely destroyed by a retreating enemy but he relentlessly pushed eastward, one step behind an enemy in full flight. The only thing more frightening to the Nazis than this young man coming at them from the west, was Stalin and the Red Army coming at them from the east.
They destroyed Nazi Germany, met is the center of Europe, and for a brief moment were allies, but never friends. The lessons learned were harsh. The experience of the Europeans and their wars, taught America about a level of brutally and inhumanity not previously comprehended. The Americans met Stalin and said this is as far as you go, and that was as far as he went. And again Western Europe was spared the experience of replacing one monster with another. For the next 50 years this same young man stood watch over Europe. Made sure she had time to rebuild, to develop her democracies, her economies - to let freedom take strong root...always staring down the wall, the threats from the east, yet never flinching, not once. On this 60th anniversary of D-Day, these transitory leaders of these European countries are coming to honor the young man that stood tall and gave them the most precious of all gifts, their freedom.
You have to wonder what those who gave their lives would think about the French and the Germans today, about their opposition to the liberation of Iraq. It's going to take a long time for some Americans to forgive the French and Germans. To forgive them for making it so difficult on the young man sent to give freedom to the Iraqi people, sent to free them from another digger of mass graves, another invader of smaller and weaker neighbors, another intimidator, another monster cut from the same cloth as the ones they had come to know so well.
What our fair weather allies don't quite understand is that in order for us to keep our liberties and freedoms, we have to give them to others. Who will speak for the man dragged and beaten, humiliated, tortured in front of his family in the middle of the night, and put in a mass grave never to be heard from again? Who speaks for the little girl not allowed to go to school or the young boy whose ears were removed because he listened to music as they did in Afghanistan? Or the villagers, dead by the thousands because of chemicals sprayed on them by the orders of one man? Should we not go after such evil men with a vengeance, knowing full well that they are our mortal enemies and would aid people already committed to destroying America at home as well as abroad? And should we not be angry with those who get in the way and call themselves our friends, our brothers?
Was it just the mass murderers of Europe that we were to be concerned with? Is Europe the only region of the world deserving of democracies and freedom? Did the world think they created a liberator and protector for Europe only, and that this great army in the center of Europe was for keeping the Russians in their place? Was that the only purpose, to occasionally call upon them to do what no one else could or would do? Stop a regional conflict here or there? Put a stop to ethnic cleansing here and there? Wait for all nations to agree on a course of action, and then send in the Americans... Did boat loads of Europeans come to help after 9/11? Or did they come along to Afghanistan just as a gesture, knowing full well that no one could stop us from destroying the Taliban? Do we scare the European now that we are on the march again?
Does it come to anybody's surprise that we would take down country after country which threatens the security of America and the general peace of the world? Were we supposed to ask France and Germany and China or Russia for the green light? Did anyone really think we would accept continued attacks, threats by an enemy bent on destroying the very foundations of our freedom, or killing Americans by the thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, and not react violently? Have the European perfected the appeasement strategy which failed to work on Germany in the '30s? Have they finally figured things out, how to deal with the Hitlers of the future? Should we not have finished Saddam after the first Gulf War? ... Should we not have attacked Afghanistan earlier? Should we not have dealt with Iran, Syria, and North Korea earlier and with one voice? History teaches us that we will have to deal with them sooner or later. Does anyone doubt that these countries are our enemies? Should we not study carefully and recognize the fact that we could have confronted Hitler much earlier, before he became powerful enough to plunge the world into war and cause millions of deaths.
Now we're in Europe for the celebration of their liberation. The Europeans will lay wreaths on the graves of the Americans who laid down their young lives for people they didn't even know. They will call the Americans, and those that landed on the beaches of Normandy, the Greatest Generation. And all these leaders and dignitaries have come to France to pay homage and honor to these young men, the very ones that gave them their freedom. The French and the Russians, the Chinese and the Germans, and a few others on the other side of the fence we now are expected to mend, will too lay a wreath.
I don't think Europe really understands the level of anger in some of us, and I don't really care anymore if they do. How many Americans and coalition forces would have been spared if France and Germany or Japan or South Korea would have said whatever is needed as long as it's needed? They've collectively and individually received the benefit of peace by default, paid for by American treasure and blood. Do you not want to say to the French in particular (who have gone so far out of their way to make it difficult for us in Iraq), the children and grandchildren of those that gave their lives for your country are dying in Iraq and you are giving comfort to those that are killing them? This week, with the 60th celebration of D-Day and the passing of President Reagan, the man that is generally credited as the straw to break the back of the Soviet Union, drives home the point of just how much is owed to the American people by the Europeans.
I received an email the other day about a man who, after watching a movie about the holocaust, asked why didn't the Jews fight back? Or why didn't we expect Pearl Harbor? Or why didn't we connect the dots on 9/11? And the answers were...We didn't believe that people could be so evil, that human beings could do something so barbaric or that someone could be capable of flying an airplane into a building full of innocent people. After watching landings on D-day, he also asked: Where did they get the courage to fight like that? And the answer came... after they saw the evil that was the enemy, then they understood and attacked with unparalleled courage and conviction. There was no choice but to destroy this evil at any price.
The very first people to realize that reality and their fate were the passengers on flight 93 over Pennsylvania. Can you just imagine the realization that three other planes had just been hijacked and crashed into buildings, and you're going to be the fourth? That's where you get the courage - that's when you understand the evil that is your enemy and come to terms with it. You have no choice but to fight with unparalleled courage and conviction. These passengers saved perhaps thousand of lives at the expense of their own. But more importantly, they became the first soldiers on the war on terror to fully understand the evil of the enemy, and what's necessary to defeat him. So let the French and Germans lay their wreaths and feel safe, for they haven't seen the face of the new threat, not like we have. But the time will come when they will look to the Young American again. I wonder what he will say then...