Standing on the D-Day invasion beaches June 5, we saw the 30-meter cliff that the Second Ranger Battalion climbed. The accounts read that one Ranger would climb up, get shot down and another would take his place. Over one-third of their battalion were killed that day. Reagan wrote, “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.”
It was an honor attending the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion in France and witnessing countless patriots honor the real heroes in the world and praise our country for turning the tide in the war.
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, more than 200,000 U.S. and Allied troops stormed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. Air landings, air and naval bombardments and the seaborne landings all happened that day. Most of Europe were in the hands of the enemy, and the South Pacific was under siege by the Japanese. It was do or die. That day the ocean turned red with the blood of brave men.
Standing in their footsteps, you realize the awesome responsibility that is left to all of us to preserve what they so valiantly died for. One of the hardest parts of the trip was seeing the countless handsome young faces of the dead in the museums and on the banners flying in every town. It haunts you.
One of the many statements etched in stone was, “You can manufacture guns and ammunition, but you cannot pull a hero off an assembly line.”
On the famous Pegasus Bridge, gliders and paratroopers swooped in that day in 1944 to secure the bridge from the Germans. Today, on that same bridge, people dressed in the WWII era of clothing, drove vintage military vehicles and talked about the “great war.” We spoke to current 101st Airborne assigned in Europe, a Seal team member and a young man, Sam, of the English First Rifle Brigade. All glowed with pride for their country and the history they were witnessing.
We visited the famous Parachute Church in Sainte-Mere-Eglise where a U.S. paratrooper was snagged on the roof of the local church and pretended to be dead to escape the Germans. At that site, thousands gathered. Young and old were dressed in vintage uniforms, they erected mess tents, chapels, hospitals and more to experience what a real WWII camp was like. We came across a young man in a foxhole, Bill admired his weapon and saying it was similar to what he used in Vietnam. That young man jumped out of the foxhole to shake Bill’s hand and thank him for his service.
WWII veterans were everywhere, most are in their late 90s, but they were sharp as a tack, adorned with medals, many in wheelchairs, the center of attention. Many had postcards made up of pictures of themselves in WWII and now. People lined up to give them the adulation they deserve.
At the Bastogne War Museum, the site of the famous Battle of the Bulge, we saw movies and photos of vast devastation but also the pure joy on the faces of the Belgium people who were liberated by the Americans.
In the book “Nuts” by Vincent J. Speranza, a 101st Airborne Machine Gunner at Bastogne, he says it all. His father, a native-born Italian, worried that his son might hurt Italian relatives because Italy under Mussolini entered on the German side. Vincent told his father. “Dad, I am an American first.” That generation got it. They came for a new life in America and embraced it as their country.
Today, we have immigrants coming to America for freebies not to become Americans but to change America.
In Berlin, we visited the famous Jewish War Memorial, which follows the paths of many different families. For example, you would see a large family picture of 15 people and three might have survived the war. In some instances, the entire family was killed. It is hard to see real pictures, real people and read the horror they endured. It is even harder still to wonder why they did not fight back.
In Poland during the war, it was unbearable. Germans were invading on their Western front while Soviets parading as their allies invaded in the East. Young children and teenagers delivered Polish Liberation messages and newspapers even though these acts could bring their deaths. Women, men and children fought side by side to defend Poland because they realized that democracy and freedom were the only way to live. Winston Churchill said to his people, “You can choose dishonor or war, but if you choose dishonor, it will lead to war.”
In America and Europe, young people talk about socialism as if it is nirvana. They believe Climate Change is a big issue? (Remember when our last President said that was number one problem?) They like “cradle to grave” coverage by government and say it is free. Free? In some countries over 50 percent of their wages go to take care of them, plus in Germany 19 percent tax on everything you buy, plus property tax and other crazy costs. Gas is about $5 a gallon, countless expensive toll roads and, of course, gun control.
When you walk the great Cemetery at Omaha Beach with endless rows of white marble crosses and Star of David’s as far as you can see, it is daunting. I cried thinking of the lives forever touched. Men and women who will never hold their babies, never see their children graduate or walk them down the aisle, never be there for their elderly parents or return to their wives and sweethearts. They did not want to die, but they wanted American democracy and ideals to live.
I wish they were all here to educate our youth and our politicians about the “why” of it all. How can our youth speak of New World Order, Socialism, gun control, open borders when we have the proof of the lunacy of these issues from generations of dead heroes and even present-day dramas like Venezuela.
Then I saw it, a small Texas flag placed on the grave of a Texan from Dallas. Over and over I saw that same Texas flag in front of graves. It made me smile and realize maybe there is hope for us.