The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

June 6, 1944

June 6th. There will be brief mentions of this day in the media, there might even be a TV special or two. The usual politicians will say the usual words, and for those old enough to remember the significance of this day, there will be a moment's pause, an almost imperceptible shake of the head, recalling the enormity of it, the inherent risk, and the ultimate sacrifice and outcome.

June 6, 1944. 75 years ago. It was D-Day, the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany, the allied forces invasion of Europe. It was brutal beyond imaging (4400 U.S soldiers killed in one day). It was necessary. To combat a spreading evil.

For most younger Americans this is ancient history. My guess is that one in ten Americans younger than 40 would know the significance of the date or be able to discuss it for more than a minute. That's to be expected.

Richard Fernandez writes:
[The men of D-Day] won and by winning shut out an infinity of possibilities and set us on the path we are on today. And what a long way it has been. Three generations ago the French and British empires still existed. The USSR was an ally. Churchill had not yet coined the term "Iron Curtain." On the Los Alamos plateau, physicists still wondered whether an atom bomb would work. The only electronic computer in the world was at Bletchley Park, a guarded secret. Space travel was as yet a fantastic dream.

Seventy-five years later, most universities teach those empires were things of horror. The USSR is no more. "A fifth of British teenagers believe Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character, while many think Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur and Eleanor Rigby were real." The atom bomb waxed, waned and waxed again. Nearly everyone carries a computer in his pocket orders of magnitude more powerful than Bletchley's Colossus. Man landed on the moon 50 years ago.

And what of D-Day? Like the fading black and white chemical film on which its images were captured, modern culture has lost the detail, emotional tone and context once provided by living memory. What still remains is posterized, compressed and pixellated to the point where, to paraphrase Tennyson, "they are become a name." The Longest Day grows less distinct with each passing year.
Walt Erickson, commenting on D-Day at The Belmont Club, writes:
Destiny is earned, by men as well as by nations. We do not live in an alternate universe where D-Day failed because our destiny was earned. The future is not inevitable. The future, our destiny, will also be earned, if not by us then by others, and whatever that future happens to be will be seen by those experiencing it to be inevitable. But it is not inevitable ... Destiny is an ever spinning coin toss that has no heads or tails.

... The men who went ashore that day, onto a hostile beach, onto a hostile continent, are far removed from us in time and space, for they knew who they were, they knew what they were fighting for, and more importantly, they knew what they were fighting for was important. Not so today, when far too many of us here in the West believe nothing is worth fighting for, that there is no difference between us and the people who are trying to kill us.
I have, on numerous occasions suggested that radical, extremist Islam is a 21st Century equivalent to Germany's Nazis. It is a supremacist ideology, authoritarian, and virulently anti-Semitic. Over the past few decades, it reared its head, but was beaten back by the ancestors of the same people who stormed the beaches at Normandy. It has "waxed, waned and waxed again."

But unlike the aftermath of D-Day which saw the Nazis crushed, radical Islam was not defeated. It went underground, allowing its apologists to suggest that alarm over its existence is "islamophobic." That its threat, if there ever was a threat, had passed. When it re-emerges—and it will re-emerge—will the West have the will to take on the inherent risk and make ultimate sacrifice to achieve the only outcome that is acceptable? Is our destiny yet another D-Day, different in substance and form, no doubt, but similar in its affect on our future?