How can we possibly comprehend what happened on D-Day?

What can we know, today, a full three quarters of a century later, about how those men felt as they stepped on to the beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944 and the machine guns began blazing?

A more troubling question: How likely is it that you could get young American men with 2019 minds to step off those LCVPs and run up the beach toward the cliffs, while German machine guns in fortified positions were raining down on them?

Ponder that a minute. 

And let us watch with trepidation how our news media covers this 75th anniversary.  Let us see how many twisted ways they can find to turn reporting on the anniversary of American soldiers saving Europe from totalitarianism into an opportunity to bash the current president of the United States, or to treasonously compare the current administration of this country to the monstrous enemy who was cutting down those American soldiers on the beaches of France on June 6, 1944.

Just how much has American society changed in these 75 years?  And how much of the change has been for the better?

A few years ago, a writer in a major American news publication asked a penetrating question: if the American people had been exposed in 1943 to the kind of media treatment of American military operations we get today — 24/7 coverage of every battle and every bomb, constant withering criticism of American military strategy and American geopolitical goals by journalists trained in university to a knee-jerk anti-nationalism — would we have been able to win the war?  Or would protesters and dissidents have forced our withdrawal before June 1944?

I do not like to reflect too much on that question.

From our vantage point today, after more than half a century of cultural battering of innate American sentiments of patriotic loyalty to country from educational and media institutions that were hijacked by cultural radicals in the wake of the 1960s, it is just about impossible to understand the world in which those 18-year-old Americans in the Higgins boats on June 6, 1944 lived and died.

The best way to do it is to find a veteran of that war and talk to him.  They are dwindling, these great men, as the time is passing, but there are still some of them left.  Perhaps 500,000 or so.  They are now very old men, and they will not be here forever. 

Find one.  Talk to him.  Better still, shut your mouth and listen to him.

If you cannot find a WWII veteran, you could do worse than to see Saving Private Ryan again. 

We are coming up on the 21st anniversary of that film's release, hard as that is to believe.  I recall seeing it in July 1998 and being blown away by the first half-hour, which is about as close as cinema is likely to get to the experience of those Americans at the code-named beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. 

It is that rarest of things these days:  a cultural production of a major media institution that does not "blame America first," but instead narrates a story that fairly straightforwardly reminds viewers that they live in the country that has been the single greatest source of moral good in the world since its birth.

In the character Upham, the film even gives us a glimpse of how World War II would likely have turned out quite differently if those fighting it had been infected with the moral sensibilities of today's eighteen-year-old social justice warriors instead of the traditional worldview embraced by the great majority of actual WWII veterans.  Make no mistake about it: Upham, the effete intellectual leftist, concerned more about abstract universal principles of justice that are ultimately unrealizable in reality than about his fellow soldiers or about the imperative of winning a war against authoritarian inhumanity, is a character to be despised.  His view of the world produces the deaths of several of his American comrades and nearly the failure of their mission.  He is the antithesis of a hero, and we should tremble to realize how many Uphams currently run around in our educational institutions, in our media corporations, and in the halls of government and administration of the country.

The heroes of the film, and the heroes of the real events of D-Day, are the men who understood that, when faced with abject evil, the first and most essential task is to defeat it.  If evil wins, you do not get to participate in the discussion of which abstract moral principles we will put into our legal codes.  The evil power gets this prerogative if it wins. 

The heroes of D-Day and of WWII did not relish the awful things they had to do.  But they knew they had to be done, and they expertly and courageously and relentlessly did them, often at the cost of their own lives.  For us and for this country and for all of Europe.

Seventy-five years. 

May we still be singing their praises in another seventy-five.

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