Quote Of The Day

Conspiracy theories last longer than the facts which disprove them.  -Me


Post#: 157-19 – Words: 1396 – Audio: N/A

Those were the days, my friend…. we thought they’d never end…


I am struck a bit with all the celebration of today being the 75th anniversary of WW2’s D-Day invasion.  I recognize today’s date each and every year.  Always have.  Along with each December 7th.  I’m not one of those who makes a big celebratory deal only at the event time milestones, like each decade or every 25 year increment.  People tend to just let dates like June 6 and December 7 simply come and go on the in-between years.  I never did… never do.

I started out my youth a war-wonk.  Having been born in 1951 I was always struck by the historical realization that D-Day was barely just 7 years before I was born.  Heck, rust on all the old battle remnants in Europe and the Pacific battlefields had hardly set in.  Shell craters had not even succumbed to land erosion… one could even still see from the air the burn patterns etched into the Dutch farm fields from the Market Garden gliders that had landed and were torched to prevent the Germans from re-using them.  Guys like Churchill, MacArthur, Eisenhower, the Pacific Navy Admirals, etc. were all still alive (mother even named me after MacArthur).   Heck, again, the Civil War itself had happened “only” 90 years prior; not even a hundred years ago.. back then.  Living through the 1960’s was a cornucopia of Civil War 100 year anniversaries.  Seems every month from 1961 through 1965 had some Civil War 100 year battle event.  To the younger me at the time the idea that I was born of a time less that 100 years since the last war gave me a historical reference on time and circumstance.  It didn’t matter all that much, historically speaking, about that “little police action” in Korea at the time of my birth, or that “thing” starting up in Southeast Asia in the 60’s, because that was my here-and-now and had not yet passed into the scrutiny of history books.  For that matter, I was growing up in the shadow of the Cold War… the idea that any new war would likely be the last for humanity.

Anyway, with Trump attending the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion recently I had a slightly different take-away this time.  As he addressed a collected number of veteran survivors and dignitaries from other nations and submitted the familiar rendition of the great sacrifice those veterans and their deceased comrades had made to free Europe from Nazi Germany I couldn’t help but make an observation regarding the purpose for them making this sacrifice in the great war.  It’s normal and typical for us to reminisce, as people living in a future these veterans helped to secure for us, that they were defending our ideals as a nation.  But what were they really defending at the time?

For one to understand what THEY were fighting for we would have to understand America as it was at that moment in time.. just as it would be for the typical British soldier, French soldier, Italian soldier, etc.  They.. the so-called Greatest Generation… was quite literally defending America itself.. their homes, their families, and their way of life.. as it was for them at that time.  If you are a Baby Boomer then you had “Greatest Generation” parents… parents who themselves were children of the Great Depression. Play this little game… think back at all the seemingly “square”.. embarrassing, and ridiculous (by our standards) perceptions of life.  I can easily pull out half of my friends’ fathers who could fit the description of an “Archie Bunker” racist.  Equally, I could pull out ¾ of my friends’ parents as having this outmoded (again by our standards) Victorian concept of dating and dress attire and this idiot obsession of how everything we did looked to the neighbors.  My folks were extraordinarily progressive and never displayed their prejudices to my sis and I.. but they still managed to embarrass the hell out of us in front of our friends.  Parents do this.  I embarrassed my own kids the same way (a number of times quite intentionally).

Now, my point here is to present the idea that those WW2 veterans were defending THEIR way of life.  In fact, I’ll wager they thought their way of life was the ONLY good way.. and would last forever, and that was one reason they fought so hard and sacrificed as they did.  I am sure few, if any of them, were thinking they were defending America so that the kids they were to spawn when they got back home would turn completely upside down their Victorian social mores, views on religion, perceptions on race, devotion to technology… everything the Greatest Generation was fighting for.  In fact, in a way, one might say everything the Greatest Generation was fighting for they were going to lose down the line anyway by their kids.

But of course there is the “greater good” in most Americans.. in the end we fight to maintain our freedoms, defending the Constitution, and our flag.  That seems to stay consistent with every war… although the intensity can vary with the conflict.  Every war since WW2 has not been a traditional victory of an enemy vanquished.  Every time we’ve gone to war or engaged in some conflict it has NOT been to defend our nation against some aggressor trying to destroy our way of life and conquer our lands.  Life has gotten way more complex than the “nice and well-defined” WW2.  In fact, not only have wars gotten more complex, they are now lasting longer because our goals and objectives for “winning” (which that term is not defined well either) are many times ill-defined and vague.  Our soldiers on these new battlefields have specific rules of engagement.. or they themselves face courts martial.  Killing your enemy has rules… that’s assuming you know who the enemy is, and that’s not guaranteed.

It makes me wonder if maybe we look to those veterans of WW2 with a measure of envy in these kinds of celebrations.  They attacked, they kicked ass, and they got the enemy to surrender.  We can’t do that anymore in spite of the frustration in that we can achieve just that a hundred times over to defeating an enemy.  In fact, what exactly do we have to celebrate since WW2 that’s of equal importance to that which the fellows in the 101st did on their day of reckoning 75 years ago?  This is absolutely not to suggest our soldiers serving all over the world in all those conflicts since WW2 didn’t sacrifice in the same way and with the same dedication.  The comparison is not between the individual fighting men and women from WW2 to now.  We are Americans… and some of us get to serve as American soldiers defending with the same spirit of freedom… the same grit and tenacity as our fathers and great grandfathers.  It’s our values as a nation that has changed to reflect a compassion greater than the traditional concept of defeating your enemy with force and drive to the bitter end to an unconditional surrender.  These finer values simmer through society, into our political process, and ultimately into our national policy.  The military missions of today are not grand armies parachuting into enemy fire, or landing on enemy fortified beaches into direct fire.  They are surgical strikes; specific mini-missions with specific targets.. all to avoid collateral damage… or rather, avoid harm to non-combatants.  The old reasoning spawned from the Vietnam War days… the emphasis is on winning their hearts and minds, not decimating their lives and sending their country back to the Stone Age.

The part I don’t like… our men and women were trained to win WW2.  We’ve not learned that lesson from Vietnam… our men and women are still trained to defend and kick ass, but no one wants them to because it’s not good policy.  We’re still training a hammer to BE a hammer in a world where our government wants to use our hammer simply to stay there and LOOK like a hammer.  In the meantime it’s us getting hammered.

 

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