Posted by MataHarley on 5 June, 2009 at 9:45 pm. 4 comments already!


H/T to Old Trooper and his travel updates from Normandy

By now, the current POTUS/TOTUS has landed in France… set to address another world audience on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Regardless of the political scrutiny of Obama’s performance, this is as it should be. Our CIC *should* be there to pay honor to our heroes, resting on French soil.

But I will say this… considering Obama’s track record of speeches across Europe as POTUS, and as a candidate, I’m not looking forward to his D-Day Obama comments, and his half-baked pride in America that gets buried under platitudes during a fence balancing act. This is a day I want a Commander in Chief that delivers. A President who remembers and mourns the “boys” that left for war, and is proud and forever beholding to those same boys who became the “men” who conquered a cliff and saved a continent

Old Trooper has sent me the perfect tribute, with a promise I would post this to remind all FA readers of the honest and heartfelt thanks from a genuine Commander in Chief from decades past. So, together we take you back in time to 1984… President Ronald Reagan’s speech commemorating another anniversary of fallen heroes on sacred ground.

It is fitting, it is a speech worthy of the day, delivered by a Commander in Chief proud not only of his country today, but also it’s history. And today, I want to share it with you… and with heartfelt thanks to Old Trooper for reviving this stirring memory.

Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose. To protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials, like this one, and graveyards where our heroes rest. We in American have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars. It is better to be here, ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea… rushing to respond only after freedom is lost.

President Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984, Normandy

Below photos from the US Naval history page.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944

Army troops wade ashore on “Omaha” Beach during the “D-Day” landings, 6 June 1944.
They were brought to the beach by a Coast Guard manned LCVP.

Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Wounded men of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, receive cigarettes and food after they had stormed “Omaha” beach on “D-Day”, 6 June 1944.

Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Landing ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the operation, June 1944.
Among identifiable ships present are USS LST-532 (in the center of the view); USS LST-262 (3rd LST from right); USS LST-310 (2nd LST from right); USS LST-533 (partially visible at far right); and USS LST-524.
Note barrage balloons overhead and Army “half-track” convoy forming up on the beach.

Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

USS LST-325 (left) and USS LST-388 unloading while stranded at low tide during resupply operations, 12 June 1944.
Note: propellers, rudders and other underwater details of these LSTs; 40mm single guns; barrage balloon; “Danforth” style kedge anchor at LST-325’s stern.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Senior U.S. officers watching operations from the bridge of USS Augusta (CA-31), off Normandy, 8 June 1944.
They are (from left to right): Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, USN, Commander Western Naval Task Force; Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, U.S. Army, Commanding General, U.S. First Army; Rear Admiral Arthur D. Struble, USN, (with binoculars) Chief of Staff for RAdm. Kirk; and Major General Hugh Keen, U.S. Army.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The pictures of Normandy tell a story… but the story we shall miss the most are from those men and women – still with us – who returned home to start again. We are losing the last precious survivors of this generation of extraordinary Americans daily. With their loss goes a more personal perspective of what it truly means to sacrifice and support our military in a war.

I, personally, find this particular D-Day anniversary more poignant than usual. Perhaps I’m more aware of what we have to lose when I’m told our nation needs to be “remade” by a some young, hip President with no emotional connection to this WWII era, the Founders and Framers. Or perhaps it’s year where I am more painfully aware of mortality… and the losses I’ve already had, and those I’ve yet to face.

Most likely it is both. A longing for a time when we knew what we had, and felt that it was worth fighting to keep… not remake. And even more, the loneliness of losing those around me who feel the same.

Today is a day to again honor that generation… while they are still around to look into their eyes and express our gratitude. They changed the lives of the world… and for the better. We cannot thank them enough.

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