Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
— John 15:3 (ESV)
June 6, 2021 is the 77th anniversary of the Allied landings on D-Day in Normandy, France that began the liberation of Europe from evil Nazi rule.
Whenever I try to teach or write about the enormity of D-day, yet aware of my inadequacy for the task, I feel like a child at the beach trying to scoop up the ocean in a sand pail. But, sensing the need to remind some of us about the importance of that event and teach others who have not been properly taught about it before, here goes.
By June 1944, most of Europe had been under the Nazi jackboot for four horrific years. Millions of Jews and others had been hauled off to concentration camps. There were no individual liberties, no elections. Merely listening to free radio broadcasts from London could cost you your life.
(Over the years I have been teaching since 1987, I sometimes encounter students who sadly had been brainwashed by the nonsensical idea, “all governments and government forms are equally valid.” To those people, in an attempt to help them and free them from that fallacy, I ask: “If that were true, then are you saying Bill Clinton, George Bush, or Barack Obama are no better than Adolph Hitler?”
Liberating Europe from Nazi rule could not be done by writing letters to the editor, conducting boycotts, or singing kumbaya. Tragically, it took a war: World War II.
In our peaceful, prosperous, naïve, and silly age, many people have forgotten that tragic but true fact: when viewing history and human nature, we see that sometimes, war is inevitable. By 1944, Europe could only be liberated by force.)
In the midnight darkness early on June 6, 1944, thousands of brave American GI’s dropped behind Nazi lines by parachute or glider. Of course, once they dropped out of the sky, there was no going back. If the D-Day landings were unsuccessful, those souls would be trapped in enemy territory and end up dead or in POW camps.
As dawn rose over the Normandy beaches, the Nazi forces beheld the largest sea flotilla and number of aircraft in one area that the world had ever seen, or ever would see.
Brave Allied soldiers, most only 18 or 19 years old–most fresh out of high school–clambered down rope nets from ships onto tiny landing craft. All this in a pitching sea and while under enemy fire. Because of seasickness and sheer terror, vomit was everywhere. Then, the landing craft–with no tops and little side protection–came to within a 100 yards or so of the beach. The front ramp dropped, and the men rushed out into the cold, chest-deep or even head-deep water, loaded with 100 pounds of gear or more, and in the face of Nazi fire, tried to make it to shore.
Countless men were killed as soon as the landing craft ramps dropped, or drowned as they floundered in the water.
(As I have often asked my students over the years, how many of those young soldiers do you think had friends or family in occupied France? Or could speak French? Or had once lived in France? Or had a personal stake in that country?
The answer, of course, is almost none.
But still, they left the safety of home and hearth to liberate a continent of people who were total strangers to them.
Do you see the tremendous debt we owe those soldiers and their generation?
The Allies had planned their landings at five beaches. The Americans assaulted beaches code-named Utah and Omaha, the Brits at Gold and Sword, and the Canadians at Juno. In addition, free forces from France, Poland, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere did what they could to help.
Going into D-Day, there was not much that the US or Nazi commanders agreed upon, but leaders of both sides believed this: If the Allied forces would be able to establish and keep a toe-hold on the French beaches by nightfall on the first day of the landings, then eventually the Allies would win WWII and the Axis powers would lose.
As it turned out, by the Grace of God, the Nazis were unable to drive the Allies back into the English Channel on that fateful day, and the Allies did establish those toe-holds on the Normandy beaches.
However, it took another bloody and long eleven months for Hitler to finally kill himself and the Germans to surrender. (See “Victory in Europe” VE Day.)
Fast forward to today.
In the US, we are hearing of a pernicious idea called “Critical Race Theory” (CRT). In a nutshell, the notion runs: people with white skin are evil by nature and oppressors. In contrast, people with dark skin are virtuous by nature and oppressed. (The fact that skin pigmentation is something you inherit at the moment of conception, cannot control, and cannot be responsible for, some folks conveniently ignore. So much for “following the science….”)
Now, back to D-Day. Those Nazi soldiers, fighting in pillboxes and foxholes to keep Europe oppressed and Hitler in power? Guess what: they were white males.
Now, how about most of those soldiers from the US, Britain, and Canada, fighting to liberate Europe and overthrow Hitler? The vast majority were white males too.
(The US Army integrated white and black soldiers a few years later, during the Korean War, at the order of President Harry Truman. Many Indian soldiers–all non-white–served the British Empire with distinction during WWII.)
Could it be, that Russian dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had it right when he claimed:
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts (…)”
In other words, are good and evil a matter of the state of one’s heart, and not one’s skin pigmentation?
Plus, was that not the main idea of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech?
Know the truth: it may irritate some people, but it will set you free.
Remember D-Day. Honor the Greatest Generation.
Learn more about D-Day, how it fits into the bigger picture of WW II, and why the National D-Day Memorial is in Bedford, Virginia by visiting our DreyerCoaching blog.
For more information on the issue of making reasonable judgments and decisions, and that not all government forms are equally valid, please read “Be Discriminating when Describing Discrimination.”
– Scott Dreyer