| D-Day, and a Summer of Anniversaries Seventy-five years after the Normandy landings, reflections on America’s troubled subsequent history
| Thursday, June 06, 2019
They did not come, as invaders usually do, to loot and plunder and
conquer. They came ashore, you might say, altruistically. A lot of them
died on the beach.
Always at the heart of America as a moral experiment has been the
question of how to make the nation’s power virtuous. Can power ever be
virtuous? It’s an almost theological riddle. On D-Day, June 6, 1944,
the two—power and virtue—were neatly aligned. Good confronted evil; such
clarity gives courage.
The invasion became a bloody, yet treasured, memory of America the
Good, a story we have carried over from the olden time—that is, the
twentieth century—as a parable of selflessness, in which the dragon of
Hitlerism is slain and the continent of Europe is delivered from evil.
It was a gesture on the grandest scale, democracy rising to an act of
high chivalry—arguably the mightiest feat of arms in the history of the
The men who fought at Normandy, 75 years ago, are either gone or in
their mid-nineties and older. The national memory relies on movies—The Longest Day or the graphic beginning of Saving Private Ryan—but
the courage and sacrifice of the men were real and unforgettable. In
this century’s atmosphere of media and political illusion, the decisive
reality of D-Day makes us wistful—not for the terrible violence of it,
but for the magnificent truth of what was being done and what was at
The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended the Second
World War 14 months later, represented a different sort of feat
entirely. The hero of that story, if there was one, was either the
physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer or Harry S. Truman, and neither was
proud of what happened. When the 75th anniversary of the nuclear age
arrives next summer, those atom bombs—called Fat Man and Little Boy—will
not be remembered triumphantly, but instead as a mixed blessing that
defeated Japan, and at the same time, opened a new metaphysical abyss.
Clarities blurred or vanished. Hiroshima and Nagasaki made D-Day the
last great military violence that could be described as virtuous—the
last that had, as it were, a happy ending: the liberation of Europe.
Read it all here at the City Journal..........
|posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:57 PM