Perspective: On Eve of D-Day, Are We Destroying What They Died For?

Training for a beach landing.

Seventy-six years after tens of thousands of allied soldiers either jumped out of airplanes behind enemy lines or waded ashore under murderous artillery and machine gun fire at Normandy, the United States is trying to recover from days of peaceful protest and not-so-peaceful rioting while also recovering from an economic shut down that put millions of people out of work and permanently locked many businesses.

Some demonstrators are demanding that police departments be de-funded, dismantled and even abolished. Gangs of looters exploiting the marches and demonstrations have destroyed, looted and even burned businesses. They have vandalized and burned police cars. People have been arrested. Frozen water bottles and bricks have become weapons.

According to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, on that “day of days” in 1944, of the 4,415 allied soldiers killed, more than half—2,499—were from the United States. Maybe they were kids from Iowa or Nebraska, New York or California, Texas or Maryland.

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If they were alive right now to witness events of the past seven days, how many would think their lives were worth losing for any of this?

Fox News is reporting that “many members of the Minneapolis City Council” want to dismantle the police department and replace it with something called “a transformative new model for public safety.” Minneapolis is the epicenter of this social earthquake because a police officer put a knee on the neck of a man named George Floyd and he died. Three other officers looked on. All four have been fired and charged with felony crimes.

A group calling itself Seattle Indivisible wants its followers to flood members of Congress with demand letters to stop the “militarization of civilian police departments.” Police are civilian law enforcement, after all, yet all too many people refer to “police” and “civilians” as separate entities.

If police were suddenly to vanish, then what? Chaos? Anarchy? Bands of roving Antifa thugs hiding behind masks trashing anything they don’t like?

In some communities, armed private citizens turned out to protect businesses from credible threats of violent vandalism that, surprise of surprises, never materialized. The Second Amendment may have proven its greatest value as a deterrent. If police disappeared tomorrow, that good old right to keep and bear arms would suddenly become the most important tenet of the Bill of Rights for millions of people who have wanted to erase it.

As noted by a story in Friday’s Seattle P-I.com, “Some 160,000 soldiers made the perilous crossing from England that day in atrocious conditions, storming dunes which they knew were heavily defended by German troops determined to hold their positions…Somehow, they succeeded. Yet they left a trail of thousands of casualties who have been mourned for generations since.”

One of the greatest fight scenes in film history occurred in the Gregory Peck-Charlton Heston western, “The Big Country.” The two characters they portrayed beat one another until they could barely stand. In the end, Peck turns to Heston and asks, “What did we prove?”

In the final moments of “Saving Private Ryan”—a film about D-Day and the immediate aftermath in which a detail is sent to find the surviving son of a family after his brothers were all killed in action—a dying Capt. John Miller, 2nd Rangers, portrayed flawlessly by actor Tom Hanks, tells Private James Francis Ryan to “Earn this.”

Seventy-six years ago, thousands of Americans gave it their all. They never had the chance to tell subsequent generations, especially those now involved in the rioting, arsons, looting and vandalism to “earn this.”

Would it make any difference?


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