Seventy years ago today, June 6, 1944...156,000 Allied soldiers, supported by many more sailors, airmen and marines, embarked on the long-awaited invasion of occupied Europe. This was an Allied effort, but American fighting men did the heavy lifting and suffered the most, in sheer numbers.
The price for the Overlord invasion on June 6 was 4,413 Allied dead, of whom 2,499 were Americans.
They stormed the beach, stared down the guns (and death), and didn't stop until Hitler's Germany was vanquished. Ask them today if they are heroes, and to a man they will answer no.
They have been called "the greatest generation", and my Grandfather was one of those. He was part of the 28th Infantry, which took part in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central European campaigns. They saw 196 days of combat. He returned home to his family, and for that, we were all eternally grateful. Many did not.
As we look back, I wonder if we could do what they did? The question is not; could our military succeed? With few exceptions (Sgt. Bergdahl comes to mind), the men and women of our military are some of the finest this country produces. But could our COUNTRY do it? Could our politicians set aside petty bickering and power grabbing long enough to come to any kind of consensus? Would we as citizens have the backbone (and stomach) to put a "cause" ahead of our own selfish desires?
Let's face it, we're a bunch of spoiled, pampered "candy-asses", as my Dad would say. We like our smart phones and gadgets, want our food fast, and bitch about the slightest inconvenience. Imagine this generation (and I mean ALL of us) being so willing to sacrifice personal freedoms and creature comforts for the greater good of the country...the world. How long would the lines be to volunteer to fight? To nurse the wounded? To organize "drives" at home to help the effort?
I guess I'd like to think we would step up if we needed to...when the rubber meets the road. I remember the days following 9/11, and the country coming together as one. Sadly, that didn't last long.
Instead on dwelling on "what if", I choose to thank those that were asked, and answered that question with a resounding roar...70 years ago today.