Great Generations

A decade back a neighbor and I decided to make a trip to the beach, something we had talked about for years, but finally got up and did it.  It was a beach on the other side of France from the more glamourous Riviera, in a region called Normandy.  The day we arrived it was late Spring, cloudy, windy, and some rain, and the beach wasn’t crowded, quite a difference from a day years earlier, in 1944, when hundreds of thousands of young men embarked on The Great Crusade to rid the world of an evil tyranny that had taken hold of much of Europe and Asia, starting on that beach.

Most Americans today if under age 50 probably aren’t even aware of what happened that day, thanks to the progressive failures and equal ignorance of today’s educators, historians, politicians, and journalists.  But as day dawned on June 6, 1944, the eyes and ears, hearts, and hopes of the world were on these brave young men who not many months earlier were thinking of proms and cars and plantings and dances and weddings.

Public domian image via Pixabay

As we walked out on the beach from the village of Vierville, the tide was out exposing about a quarter-mile-deep stretch of beautiful sandy beach.  That beach was nameless until that distant day when it was assigned the code name “Omaha”.  At the far water’s edge, we turned back to look landward, and it came to us, in spite of the current serenity, the fear, determination, bravery, and terror those American and Allied soldiers must have experienced as they jumped off landing craft to face a rainstorm of killing steel that was being hurled at them as they crossed the thousands of feet of unprotected exposure before they could reach the limited yet still lethal shelter of the distant bluffs.

Many of them did not make that transit, dying on the sands with the rifles still wrapped in the protective plastic sleeves before they could ever fire a shot.  As I took in that scene, like I’m sure so many other visitors must do, I contemplated whether I could ever display the courage and bravery of those men that day.  To borrow a quote from James Michener’s Bridges at Toko Ri, “where do we get such men?”

When June 6 passes this year, the memories of that day will be little noted, save for a diminishing number of men in their 90’s who were there, and their surviving families who lived through that day.  There may be some grainy films on the History and Military channels, and there will be reruns of Saving Private Ryan, but for the most part, it will not be on the minds of the Woke generation or their proponents in the media, academia, or entertainment circles.  If noted at all, it will be to condemn Eisenhower’s (who’s he?) use of the words “Great Crusade” as highly offensive and religiously divisive.

It is common now to call these true heroes “the Greatest Generation”, but I think that deserved appellation may be unfair to those who answered the call to colors in other wars -- the simple farmers and tradesmen who rallied to the Union cause to save the Union and free the enslaved, the Doughboys who went Over There, the first Cold War defenders in Korea fighting the spread of the new communist tyrannies, the draftees who went to Vietnam and returned to an ungrateful nation – these, too, were Great Generations.

But my, and your, concern should not be for the current apathy in remembering D-Day and other great accomplishments by those in uniform over our history, but of who will replace them in our future.  Is there a next Great Generation?  The augurs are not good.

We have a woke generation who manifestly hates America.  We have organizations (BLM, Antifa) whose purpose is to destroy America.  We have media that preaches only the much-exaggerated sins of America.  We tolerate policies and lawlessness designed to “fundamentally change” the culture and majesty that is America.  We have educators who vilify the founders and history of America.  We have political leaders who want to mimic the governments and practices of the enemies of America.

Who would want to defend that America?

There are still those who reflect the qualities, goodness, and patriotism of their forebearers, that one-half of one percent who today serve to keep the rest of us free to go to the mall, or look at our Twitter tweets, or burn Portland.  To them, we are grateful, though not so much to their leaders, military and civilian, who are increasingly political creatures focused on advancing their careers and echoing the politically correct words and policies that their sponsors demand of them – like diversity, pronouns, anti-religion, white supremacy, inclusion.

But that mere 0.5% will not prevail in the coming dangers from a China, Russia, or nuclear Iran and North Korea.  They will not be reinforced by new divisions from the woke generation, the America haters, the on-the-dole illegal aliens, the pride flag-wavers, the 70% physically or criminally unqualified pool of draftable males, the possibly brave yet 110 lb. females, the easily-triggered college students.

No, for the first time in our history, it seems there is not the raw material available for our next Great Generation.  D-Day will mean the arrival of the new iPhone, not the invasion on some enemy shore to save Liberty and guarantee Freedom.

Fifty some years ago, when it was still a respectable news and entertainment network, CBS produced some great documentaries.  One of them from 1964 was CBS Reports: D-Day Plus Twenty – Eisenhower Returns to Normandy.

This Sunday, June 6, 2021, it might be worth your while to spend 82 minutes watching it, especially Eisenhower’s closing comments.

Again, where do we get such men?

More importantly, in our current state of self-hating America, where will we ever get such men, and now women, again?

William Campenni is a retired engineer and Air Force fighter pilot.

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