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Bloviating Zeppelin: D-Day, June 6th, 1944: WHY WE ARE FREE

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

D-Day, June 6th, 1944: WHY WE ARE FREE

Thousands upon thousands of American soldiers gave up their lives for global freedom in the 1940s during World War II. Oddly enough there are no firm estimates, but they range between 500,000 and 800,000 Americans.

On D-Day itself, best-estimate casualties (from the D-Day Museum) include:

The breakdown of US casualties was 1,465 dead, 3,184 wounded, 1,928 missing and 26 captured. Of the total US figure, 2499 casualties were from the US airborne troops (238 of them being deaths). The casualties at Utah Beach were relatively light: 197, including 60 missing. However, the US 1st and 29th Divisions together suffered around 2,000 casualties at Omaha Beach.

In one day. In one assault.

I would then refer you to the most intense 30-minutes in moviemaking history by suggesting you watch the beginning of "Saving Private Ryan." I have heard countless WWII veterans state the opening assault scene is too accurate and too frightening for them to watch.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt led this nation in prayer over radio on June 6th of 1944:

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest.

They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


From Ronald Reagan's 1984 Normandy speech:

We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.

Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.

And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."

I think I know what you may be thinking right now -- thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him -- Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry, I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles, who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold; and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots' Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet," and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4:00 am. In Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying. And in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance -- a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. The Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II. Twenty million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We're bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we're with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their value [valor] and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Our WWII veterans are almost entirely gone. My father, an 8th AF B-17 pilot, passed away on February 11th of this year at the age of 88. Where did we find such men? Ordinary, common men from every part of our nation, from the farmlands of Iowa to the cities of New York and Los Angeles? They all answered the call, willingly, courageously, unselfishly. They set their lives aside in order to do their part. Some made it back; some didn't. Some came back in pieces.

Who will sacrifice for our nation's future? Where will we find our future warriors?

I fear: I do not see so many.

I still say: God bless America. The last, best hope for the entire planet.



Anonymous WMD_Maker said...

America the way it is today, and certainly not where it is headed under the Obama fist, does not have the will or fortitude to do what those men did 65 years ago.

Sat Jun 06, 04:00:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

WMD, I shudderingly fear that you are entirely correct.


Sat Jun 06, 04:23:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great post BZ. I saw Saving Private Ryan a long time ago and I had no clue what they actually went through. That movie was incredible and made me even more 'in awe' of our men in uniform.

Sat Jun 06, 04:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Rivka here, not Patrick.. Wonder why it is showing up Patrick. Hmmm..

Sat Jun 06, 04:49:00 PM PDT  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

We fought not only to bring down Germany.

That was foregone after Kursk.

No, we fought to protect part of Europe from that which was taking Germany down. One war was ending and another would soon grow cold... bitter... long. This time we would stay to ensure peace: no longer would we leave it up to others as we did after the previous war. We did not learn that lesson and showed that in Vietnam and in 1991. Now we learn it again... we must never forget all those who died so that we can create the peace after war.

And yet we do.

They did not die in vain.

It is we who die in forgetting.

Sat Jun 06, 04:56:00 PM PDT  
Blogger shoprat said...

Sadly if D-Day happened today the press would bemoan the deaths instead of celebrate courage and achievements of those heroes.

Sat Jun 06, 06:16:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home.

My Great Aunt Winnie, a devout Christian, had two sons on Normandy Beach that day; her boys, barely out of their teens, were fighting for their lives and for freedom during the invasion. The Lord heard Winnie's prayers, and her boys returned to her after WW2 ended.

On this 65th anniversary of D-Day, I don't personally know a single survivor of that momentous event. The ones I knew have gone on -- to their eternal rest.

For me, Ronald Reagan's speech at Normandy on the 40th anniversary is one of the most moving speeches he ever delivered.

I would also remind all here that today is the 5th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's passing. I've always thought it appropriate that RR went to his eternal rest on that particular date.

Sat Jun 06, 07:09:00 PM PDT  
Blogger christian soldier said...

Yes we do - have the will...I do agree with you-- BZ--evil (your comments on Z's site) does not understand honor---
I have friends 'over there' now-and I perceive a ground swell ---I'm not giving up!

Sat Jun 06, 07:10:00 PM PDT  
Blogger christian soldier said...

PS I lost my DAD several years --I know you miss yours...

Sat Jun 06, 07:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

BZ, I always find excellence on your site. Thank you sir for sharing your God-given talent for helping us remember our genuine heroes.

Sat Jun 06, 08:15:00 PM PDT  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

One of the best posts I've read today!

Sat Jun 06, 08:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

I have been mulling over that very question BZ, which is who will carry the mantle after my Grandpa's, mine and your generation is gone. I hope to God my boy and his generation represent a new found energy for our country, cuz right now these kids ain't representing all that well. If you speak to 17-24 year olds nowadays they seem utterly clueless about everything and not only that, they don't seem to care about our nation at all.

My Grandpa Butch is 85 and is a WWII veteran. I must say that they don't make them like him anymore, which saddens me.

I cringe when I think that his generation is dying off. Take care.

Sun Jun 07, 12:18:00 AM PDT  
Blogger cracker said...


The French lost 60,000 men

in one day.

Respecting all vets, especially those who can vow to never do it again on Gods earth.

Sun Jun 07, 12:39:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Ranando said...

I have been to most of the American Cemeteries throughout Europe and I can tell you first hand that Normandy is overwhelming. Walking between the headstones literally brings you to your knees. It’s the magnitude that brings tears to your eyes, it’s an experience I shall never forget and I hope to return someday.
I feel our men and women in uniform today are the same as they were back then. Brave people that will follow any order and do what is asked of them. The difference that I see is the leadership of WWII and the leadership we have today. Back then we sent these fine folks on a mission to win, to win at any cost. The mission in WWII was to bring the enemy to their knees and make them surrender, you can never have peace until one side surrenders.
A REAL Conservative realizes that when going into war, one does NOT win by selective little bombings here and there and minuscule troop strength. Learn from WWII, the Germans and Japanese did not surrender because of selective bombing and little operations with a minimum number of troops, they surrendered because they got bombed back to the stone age (and in Japan' case, it took not one but TWO nuclear bombs) and superior forces.

Sun Jun 07, 09:51:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Ranando, you make one of the BEST points I've seen you make, ever. And a point that needs to be heard all up and down the halls of the Pentagon and over to the White House.

In for a penny, in for a pound, or don't go at all. Play to win and play to annihilate.



Sun Jun 07, 10:12:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous WMD_Maker said...

I have to agree with Rando.
For a long time now I have been sawing that shock and awe is not the ability of a guy to stand in his doorway and watch his neighbor being bombed. Shock and Awe is a flock of B-52s in a bomb run formation!!

Sun Jun 07, 04:21:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

David & Wordsmith: those are two of the most treasured comments I've received in quite some time; thank you so kindly.


Sun Jun 07, 05:09:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

This is not taught in public school history classes in any kind of meaningful way, so it's no wonder today's youth don't feel a sense of responsbility to keeping their nation proud, strong and free.

Sun Jun 07, 06:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi BZ,

I have been a longtime reader, but this is my first comment. I felt compelled to do so based on the fantastic D-Day post you made. At its conclusion you asked:

"Who will sacrifice for our nation's future? Where will we find our future warriors? I fear: I do not see so many"

Perhaps my story can answer some of that question, albeit from a odd angle.

My family can trace back our service to this country to the Green Mountain Boys. My grandfather tried eight times to enlist in World War II. Each time he was turned down because of a severe hernia operation he had as a child. To his last days he always wondered if he they would have taken him if he had tried for a ninth time.

My grandmother knit socks for the doughboys in World War I, she still had ration stamps from World War II when she passed away at 97. My father was a petty officer on the USS Enterprise in Vietnam, and it was my hope that I could follow in his footsteps.

Upon graduation college I tired to join the Navy, but was declared not physically qualified on account of exercise-induced asthma (despite the fact I competed in Division 1 college athletics, am an Eagle Scout, and was a All-American scholar athlete, but that didn't factor apparently). I was told no other service would take me either.

I was disappointed to say the least that my country did not want my service, but I still hold that every citizen is a soldier. If my country should ever need me, hand me a Garand and four bandoleers and I'll make any enemy of this great country sorry they messed with us.

Remember: there are many patriots who want to, and would gladly answer the call but have been denied.

Mon Jun 08, 03:21:00 PM PDT  

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