SIXTY NINE YEARS AGO ON THE EVENING OF JUNE 5TH 1944, THE BBC BROADCAST ITS REGULAR SHORTWAVE PROGRAMMING INTO WHAT IT PLEASED THE GERMAN NAZI REGIME TO CALL THE "GROSSDEUTCHESREICH" BUT WHAT EVERYONE ELSE KNEW AS "OCCUPIED EUROPE". These broadcasts regularly contained odd phrases which may or may not - the Germans knew not - be coded orders and information. "The chair is against the wall" for instance might mean absolutely nothing. It also might mean that the sabotage of a train or the blowing up of an ammo dump had been green-lighted.
On this particular evening, one of those phrases was: "Wound my heart with a monotonous langour". It was repeated in French, and those words alerted partisans from Norway to Italy and especially in France that the long awaited invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe would begin before dawn the next day.
Scant hours later, paratroopers and gliders packed with soldiers began to swoop down into costal France. Just at morning's light, spotters at the costal defensive posts gasped as the horizon suddenly turned black with the largest fleet of amphibious landing vessels ever assembled before or since. Some of these contained troops from England and the British Commonwealth bound for the landing sites of Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. Others contained American troops bound for the two toughest landing sites of the invasion: Utah Beach...
And Omaha Beach at Pointe du Hoc. Omaha Beach was the most hellish part of the invasion site. German troops manning artillery and the dreaded MG-42 "buzz-saw" machine guns sat atop a bank of sheer cliffs, waiting to mow down our fighting men as soon as the ramps of the landing boats opened. Entire boatloads of young American troopers were slaughtered before the first soldier set foot outside the landing craft.
But there were simply more landing boats than there were machine guns, and our fighting men were able to disembark and make their way across Rommel's booby-trapped beach in sufficient quantities to execute the next stage: scaling those cliffs (while German troops fired down on them) and silencing the machine guns and cannon. There was much carnage, but the American assault was relentless. The American soldiers who made it to the tops of those cliffs eventually silenced the Nazi defensive positions.
Once the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc had been neutralized, American engineers began to construct a makeshift harbor on the beachhead. From this harbor began to pour - at first a trickle, then a flood - supplies, armor, and fresh troops. Hitler might have been able to conquer the Soviet Union had not the Invasion of Normandy taken place and succeeded. Had he done so, the result would have been a world dominated by the swastika and the rising sun.
What is now commonly known as "D-Day" began a massive refreshment of the Tree of Liberty as the blood of patriots and tyrants began to flow. Less than a year after the first American boot touched the beaches of France, the dragon of National Socialism lay dead and withering.
Today I picked up a copy of the Washington Post. There was not one mention of what is arguably the single most consequential day in the history of this nation and the history of this planet since the day in 1775 when "the Embattled Farmers stood, and fired the Shot heard 'round the world".
It seems to me that there are many now living who just don't care why they are so free to live in a sort of monotonous langour. And it wounds my heart, indeed. Four hundred thousand American troopers died to try and free the world from an unspeakable evil, and today not a damned peep about it from the Current Resident of the White House. What? Are we all supposed to just forget about it?
Try if you can to remember (or if you can't remember, to imagine) a time when evil was pure deadly evil and not just some kid calling another kid a name. Try to remember when you go out to that nightclub to ogle the members of whichever sex attracts you, that some 19-year-old kid stepped out of a landing boat into 18 feet of water and drowned weighed down by 70 pounds of equipment so you could have your fun.
As for me, I sure as hell remember that I can write this blog and say what I damn please in a large part due to the boatloads of American teenagers gunned down before they ever disembarked. So if you didn't remember what day in history this is before you read this, you damn well do now. Read up on it and think. And if you know a World War II veteran, thank him or her and do them some small kindness. It was American blood that quenched the global fire of murderous tyranny in that conflict. And today no remembrance in the Washington Post? Pathetic.