We all know what happened 60 years ago today. The Allies — really the Allies, not some jury-rigged “coalition” — launched a massive, risky, daring invasion of France, the key stroke in the western offensive against Nazi Germany that would help bring down the Third Reich just 11 months later. That seems like a lot, right? But it’s not enough for the president or nearly anyone else who lives under the Red, White and Blue. Here’s the prez, in part, from his speech in Normandy earlier
“The generation we honor on this anniversary, all the men and women who labored and bled to save this continent, took a more practical view of the military mission. Americans wanted to fight and win and go home. And our GIs had a saying: The only way home is through Berlin. That road to V-E Day was hard and long, and traveled by weary and valiant men. And history will always record where that road began. It began here, with the first footprints on the beaches of Normandy.”
And here’s another stirring example, from the beloved Andy Rooney on “60 Minutes” tonight:
“What the Americans, the British, and the Canadians were trying to do was get back a whole continent that had been taken from its rightful owners by Adolf Hitler’s German army. It was one of the most monumentally unselfish things one group of people ever did for another.”
That’s all great. We’re heroes who saved the world then and are still busy doing it, one Iraqi militant, one Iraqi soccer ball at a time. But you got to wonder what those helpless liberated Europeans — who happen to include Russians, by the way — make of this renewed reminder that we saved their butts.
Yeah, D-Day was huge. But anyone who’s got any idea of the course of the war knows there was an Eastern Front on which Hitler wrecked his armies (but only after inflicting horrific casualties on both civilians and enemy forces); anyone who knows the course of the war knows that American GIs might have talked about Berlin, but that it was the Red Army that fought its way to the German capital; anyone who knows the course of the war knows that U.S. forces were on the sidelines as Germany invaded Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Norway, Greece, the Balkans, the Baltic states, Russia and the rest; anyone who knows the course of the war knows that it took the Japanese attack on
Hawaii to kick our sense of selflessness into high gear, a full year and a half after France had fallen to the blitzkrieg.
It’s fitting to celebrate heroism and sacrifice and the nobility of citizen soldiers answering the call to duty. It’s dishonest to rewrite history to defend, implicitly, current policies that have nothing to do with the heroes’ sacrifice. And it’s tiresome and kind of boorish to keep reminding the world of all the great stuff we’ve done on its behalf.