D-Day: 6 June 1944…. When we look back upon the mighty armada the allies threw ashore on that day, it is tempting to believe overwhelming victory was inevitable. Not so. In a series of small matters God smiled upon the endeavor. Late Spring that year saw some of the worst weather the Channel coast had seen in living memory – the weather only cleared the night before the invasion and the storms returned with a vengeance a couple of days later, leaving just enough time to get all that was needed ashore. The bad weather caused the German commander of the "Atlantic Wall," the famed Rommel, to risk going home for his wife’s birthday. It would take several precious hours for him to rush back to the front. Even as the allies began landing, the Germans still thought the main thrust would be at Calais, the narrowest part of the English Channel. Panzer divisions held in the rear near Paris could not be brought up with out Hitler’s authorization, but Der Fuehrer had taken a sleeping pill and no one around him dared to wake him up.

In the actual event, only upon Omaha Beach – one out of five landing zones – was the issue ever in doubt. Movies from the Longest Day to Saving Private Ryan have depicted the terror and the heroism of the Americans who finally broke through there in the afternoon. But what if the whole thing had been a disaster? What if instead of securing the beachheads, the English Channel was filled with wreckage – and the bobbing corpses of thousands of American, British and Canadian boys? Who would take responsibility for a bloody fiasco on such a scale?

That question had been decided before the first ships left English ports, and in the event of failure the letter had already been written:

"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone." Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower…

Thank God that announcement never needed to be made, and instead we got this from Ike:

"People of Western Europe – A landing was made this morning on the coast of France by troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force. This landing is part of the concerted United Nations’ plan for the liberation of Europe…"

Notice that the "I," "my" and "mine" in the first announcement are nowhere to be found in the second. Instead we get an American from the Kansas prairie plainly announcing that a job got done.

Where is the leadership today whose sense of responsibility, decency, dignity and humility is that deep and that wide? Instead we seem surrounded by shape-shifting, blame-throwing buffoons…

God help us.

0 0 votes
Article Rating