Could America Stomach D-Day Today?

It is a cloudy and cold early June morning, not exactly a perfect day for one navigating the English Channel. Today is not like any other day, though. Timing and the essential element of surprise are your friends on this day. You find yourself in an amphibious landing craft and headed for Omaha Beach. It is June 6th, 1944 and you have been through months of training preparing for this mammoth invasion. The seas are rather rough, and as you try to ponder the moment, soldiers are vomiting around you as they succumb to seasickness. Fortunately, you had just a small bite of a chocolate candy bar, so your stomach is almost empty. Your adrenaline is flowing and you have a feeling of nervous excitement combined with a healthy dose of fear of what's to come. You squeeze your rifle a bit tighter as you hear mortar and bullets hitting the amphibious landing craft. Is this what hell is like, you think to yourself. Oh, this is just the prelude, that you are instinctively aware of. Suddenly, the landing craft stalls and is stuck on a sandbar. You yell at the coxswain, "Try and get us off of this sandbar!"  He screams at you that he can't. You tell him to drop the door or we will most assuredly all die right here. As the door opens and the seas rush in, you are instantly shocked by how cold the water is. You see the beach is still 200 yards away and now you have to wade through the rising tide in 50 degree water and loaded with all your gear. As you and your fellow soldiers embark for the beach, a mortar shell hits close by followed by a burst of gunfire. You see several comrades cut in half and limbs ripped off like a buzz saw cut them. Your mind momentarily races and you are transported back home to the family farm in Wisconsin. You can feel the warmth of the June sun and hear the dairy cows and pigs. How you long to be there now. That brief flash of a daydream is gone in an instant, as you slowly wade neck deep in the cold English Channel water, ever so slightly inching closer to the beachhead. Bullets pellet the water as you continue on. Bodies all over littering the water and the beach. As you reach the beach, you find it full of mines and traps and snares of all types. This truly is as close to hell on earth as you will ever know. Somehow, but only by the grace of God, you navigate the beach and the numerous obstacles, to find a 100 foot cliff to climb to get up to the German soldiers and gunners. You look up and pray to God for the strength and stamina to fulfill this mission, then begin the long climb into history. 

The anniversary of D-Day is a perfect time to remember a pivotal moment in history and also a time to ask a rather introspective question. Could America stomach D-Day today? There are three main reasons why I am of the belief that the answer is no.

First of all, it would be nearly impossible to pull off this large of an invasion from an operational and intelligence standpoint. This whole invasion took a couple of years to formulate and there was a massive amount of intelligence and counter-intelligence involved. The British played a huge role in espionage, and with the elaborate scheme of Operation Bodyguard, managed to thoroughly convince the NAZI's that a main invasion force would land at Pas-de-Calais, France. The Allies sold it so well, that the Germans pulled more ammunition and troops away from Normandy and fortified more of the Pas-de-Calais coastal area. It would be very difficult to carry out this elaborate of a ruse today as well as the massing of as many troops in Britain as was needed to lead the expeditionary force. That leads me to my second reason, technology and the media.

With the massive increase in global technology and our world of 24/7 news coverage, the elements of surprise and secrecy would be greatly compromised. It is hard to fathom an enemy being caught so off guard in today's world, as the Germans were on that day. Also, the cameras would catch everything and the talking heads on TV would be dissecting and debating it thoroughly in front of a national audience. Which inherently brings me to my third reason, and that is our republic has grown soft.

As the years have passed, America has changed morally, spiritualy, and ethically. The American people have become more and more soft and uncomfortable with war and the spilling of blood, even for a just and right cause. The idea of such a large loss of life and the cameras rolling and bringing it into everyone's living room, would make it extremely hard for any president to sell it, even if it was clearly in the best interest of America and the world. The fact is, we lack the moral compass that the Greatest Generation had and we also lack the fortitude to see a fight through until the end. I consulted with Dr. Steven Bucci, a Visiting Fellow for Special Ops & Disaster Management at The Heritage Foundation, and here is what he had to say:

"You are 100% correct. Pulling off the operational security needed would be impossible today (at least for a democracy like ours). Our tolerance for casualties was actually low back then. Eisenhower prepared a letter of resignation before D-Day because he knew the casualties would be high. If the invasion had failed, he would have been crucified. Even then, casualties were only tolerated in victory. Today we don't want any blood spilt, friendly or enemy, and we don't seem capable of doing what it takes to actually achieve victory."

In conclusion, I believe this anniversary of D-Day is a reminder from history that can serve as a measuring stick and a wake-up call to America today.  What our Greatest Generation did in World War II was take a stand against clear evil and no matter what the risks and obstacles were, to fight with bravery and courage to secure freedom and liberty against the terror and tyranny of fascism. Undoubtedly, at some point in the near future, we will end up facing another evil spectre, and we will have to be able to look in the mirror as a republic and ask ourselves if we can live up to that same level of duty and honor as those who fought on D-Day 77 years ago.


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