The American Way

We’ve talked some this week about Apollo 11, indeed the whole early space program, and we’re going to today as well.

S[ecofically, how very American the whole thing was. Joshua Lawson at The Federalist says.

In the 2008 space documentary “When We Left Earth,” while addressing the success of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders remarked that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were “humans” who “just happened to be Americans.”

Last year, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling played Neil Armstrong in Damien Chazell’s biopic “First Man.” In an echo of Anders’s comments from a decade earlier, Gosling raised the eyebrows of many Americans when he said the moon landing was “widely regarded in the end as a human achievement” and that’s how the team making “First Man” chose to view it.

These statements are part of a trend of historical revisionism that paints every American achievement as universal and global while portraying the nation’s past sins as exclusively American. In truth, NASA’s missions in general—and the Apollo 11 moon landing in particular—represent an odds-defying triumph of American exceptionalism.

In good forthright American terms, “It’s bullshit”. Only in America. It’s another attempt to denigrate America, although more subtle than usual.

Like many of the most inspiring adventures in history, the American moon landing is a comeback story. The United States began the space race trailing the Soviet Union. In 1957, the U.S.S.R. stunned the world when they successfully launched the Sputnik satellite into orbit. The first man in space was not an American but Soviet Yuri Gagarin.

Those involved in the first days of NASA were flabbergasted at the early Soviet success. Space correspondent Jay Barbree recalls the sentiment of the time: “These people couldn’t build a refrigerator…how can they get into orbit?”

Rather than looking at the initial score in the space race and giving up, Americans saw the deficit they had to overcome and were emboldened. The Soviets touched a nerve. Unknowingly, they reinvigorated the determined, persevering, and rugged streak embodied in the very nature of the United States. In the drive to remain the preeminent leader in science and engineering, the NASA missions tapped into something deep within the American character.

The space program that led to men landing on the surface of the moon is part of the grand narrative of Americans braving forth and conquering the unknown. The Apollo program and the Mercury and Gemini missions that preceded them were victories of innovation, adaptation, and a hungry (and distinctively American) competitive instinct. Although there were certainly some non-American-born engineers and scientists working for NASA in the 1960s, the entire endeavor was fundamentally American in its ethos.

Looking back. it reminds me of nothing so much as Babe Ruth in Wrigley Field all those years ago ‘calling his shot’ and then doing it. But then, like the Mitchell Raid showed, America is the Babe Ruth of nations. Tell us something is impossible and we’ll just ‘get ‘er done; quicker.

Like a lot of people, I liked President Kennedy. Part of that is that I was too young (and too sheltered) to understand some of his flaws, but a lot of it was that he believed in the sort of America that I did. At Rice University, he said this in 1961 he said this:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard … [the] challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…

That’s powerful stuff, isn’t it? Echoes that Marine Sargeant in Belleau Wood a half-century before Kennedy’s speech, “Come on you sonsabitches! You want to live forever?” But compare it to this, from William Bradford, from over a century before we even became Americans:

…all great and honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages…all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne, or overcome.

Once you account for the changes in the vernacular language, it’s the same damn speech! And it’s not a speech, any Frenchmen or Spaniard, and not even many Englishmen would make, although quite a few Aussies might. Good people they may all be, they’re followers. We’re not, we lead. Follow me, it says on the statue at the Infantry School, it does not say, together we shall overcome.

Kennedy was on to something when he harnessed the idea of a “New Frontier” during the 1960 presidential election race. After the U.S. Census of 1890 reported the closing of the American frontier in the West, historian Frederick Jackson Turner revealed that much of what made America so exceptional and successful could be tied to the exploration of its expansive frontier.

This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities … furnish the forces dominating American character. … At the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or perish. …Early Western man was an idealist withal. He dreamed dreams and beheld visions. He had faith in man, hope for democracy, belief in America’s destiny, unbounded confidence in his ability to make his dreams come true.

In the roughest days of the American West, the harsh, unforgiving, and trying experience of trying to eke out a living was a baptism of fire. The nation’s character was both forged and revealed in the conditions of the Old West.

Turner observed that America owes its most striking attributes to the frontier. It took a particular brand of dogged determinism to fight against the unforgiving climate, an often-hostile native population, and the ever-present threat of failure.

That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in the artistic but powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism … withal that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom—these are traits of the frontier.

In short, as General Patton said,

Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

It’s time we remembered who we are, and acted like it.

 

Loud, Proud, and Rowdy, and on a Mission

243 years ago today, a document was read out by the town crier in Center City Philadelphia. That document was and is America’s Mission statement. This is it:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Seal_of_Virginia.svgOf course, it had been building up to that point for years, the shooting had started over a year earlier, when an unlawful government in Massachusetts tried to disarm the people. but in truth the roots were deeper still than that. If one were to look at the Massachusetts state seal, one would find Liberty, with a sword in one hand and Magna Charta in the other, or one could look at Virginia’s state seal.

Because this marked the start of the second of the three cousin’s wars and was the English Civil War, all over again. Again the cause was the rights of freemen, and this time not amongst the relatively calm precincts of England but here where men had learned to breathe free, and already knew the timeless cry of the American to his government, “Leave me alone!”

And so came one of America’s most heartbreaking wars, where we gave up that of which we were most proud, our Britishness, to preserve our English rights. It was hard, and it pretty much ended here.

Tom Paine had it pretty much right when he said, “You can’t conquer an idea with an army.” I’m sure that a few shades of Stuart kings agreed with him. Where that idea went is a modern legend.

4 July 1776 fired off a crazy rocking rolling ride that hasn’t stopped ‘stirring things up’ on a global scale.

Advancing arrogance into an art form with a remarkable relentless risque commitment to liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, and laissez-faire values. 

America differs qualitatively from all other nations, because of her unique origins, nat’l credo, historical evolution, and distinctive political and religious institutions.

Great Satan is magically especial because she was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy. 

Loud, proud and rowdy – early America forecast future stuff with a provocative lingo that still fits today. “Don’t Tread On Me!” “Liberty Or Death”, “Live Free Or Die” 

Great Satan’s superiority of the American xperiment is reflected in the perception among Americans of America’s role in the world. That American foreign policy is based on moral principles is a consistent theme in the American hot diplopolititary gossip – a phenomenon recognized even by those who are skeptic of such an assessment. 

This inclination to do right has been virtually unique among the nations of the world – and for this very reason – America has been totally misunderstood. How could a nation so rich, so successful actually, really be so unselfish and so caring?

Unconvincing (and either historically igno – or deceitfully dishonest – either term will do) critics cry Great Satan must have darker motives! America must be seeking imperium – to dominate everyone else, suck up all the oil, to trade and rob blind for America’s selfish purposes. 

People from more grasping, less idealistic societies find it nigh impossible to accept that America honestly believes that giving everyone opportunity is the real roadmap for abundance and happiness everywhere – not merely in the magical Great Satan.

Americans honestly believe that securing other people’s freedom is actually like the best guarantee that America can keep her own. […]

Creative destruction is Great Satan’s middle name. It is her natural function, for she is the one truly revolutionary country in the world for more than 2 centuries. 

She does it automatically, and that is precisely why creeps and tyrants hate her guts, and are driven to attack her. An enormous advantage, despots fear her, and oppressed peoples want what she offers: freedom. 

Amazingly, some suspect states, illegit leaders and some people have not yet comprehended that America’s primary intention is to preserve and keep our own land and liberty and all it’s prosperity and that America will do anything and go anywhere to make it happen.

From Great Satan’s Girlfriend, Thanks, Courtney!

So, sit back, enjoy the hotdogs and beer, the tanks on the Mall, the music and the speechifying. We’ve got some problems that Tom Jefferson and the boys in Philadelphia would understand, we’ll get them sorted eventually, I reckon. Meantime the band’s playing our song.

happy-birthday-americaFirst published on 4 July 2015 at All along the Watchtower.

And now we watch with interest as the British themselves join our Revolution against a Parliament grown overpowerful that has become a threat to freedom itself. Godspeed to them, we pray that we aren’t entering the time of the fourth of the cousins’ wars but Americans and Britons will be free.

Juneteenth

Click to enlarge

Robert Maranto, writing in Frontpage magazine reminds us of one of the holidays that we don’t celebrate much (but maybe should). It’s called Juneteenth, as fits neatly between Memorial Day and Independence Day, both of which it is related to. It’s the day the last slave in America was freed, in Texas, on 16 June 1865. It only cost more than 300,000 American casualties (Union only) and 4 years of total war on ourselves.

A nation with substantial economic ties with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, only got around to ending slavery in 1962. Yet I would never define Saudi Arabia by its history of slavery, and I bristle when people define America that way. Virtually all peoples have histories of enslaving and brutalizing others, so obsessing over America’s sins while ignoring everyone else’s is anti-American in the purest sense. Alas, such views proliferate in the media, academia, and politics.

Remember that, the next time some fool starts denigrating America.

For that reason, I commemorate Juneteenth by re-reading Thomas Sowell’s classic essay, “The Real History of Slavery,” written in part to debunk popular misconceptions spread by the likes of Alex Haley’s Roots. A part of his collection of mainly original essays in Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Sowell’s essay teaches politically incorrect lessons no longer taught in higher education or pop culture.

First, slavery impoverished rather than built societies, by stigmatizing work and thrift while exalting as role models a slave-owning leisure class. In some respects, slave owners were like Hollywood stars, widely envied, and notorious for their conspicuous consumption and reckless disregard of others. Within places as distinct as China, Brazil, the Middle East, and America, locales with high concentrations of slaves were the poorest and most backward.

More important was the evolution and spread of Western ideas about individual worth and self-determination. As Sowell writes, slavery pitted “Western civilization against the world” at a time when the West had the power to prevail. Non-Western people generally did not end slavery on their own; indeed, most fiercely resisted abolition. Great Britain played the indispensable role in ending slavery, choosing ideals over interests in the process.

18th century Britain was the world’s largest slave trader, with powerful interests profiting from human trafficking. Yet under religious pressure, 19th Century British parliaments abolished slavery and increasingly employed the Royal Navy and colonial governance to erode the global slave trade, at enormous cost in blood and treasure.

In Sudan, for example, British General G.C. Gordon fought slavery, imposing the death penalty on those convicted of castrating enslaved men to market them as eunuchs. After Mohammad Mahad defeated Gordon at Khartoum, human trafficking again went untroubled until British soldiers returned, among them a young Winston Churchill. Under British pressure, Sudan eventually formally abolished slavery, though informally it exists there to this day.

Sowell attacks the hypocrisy of criticizing the 19th century West for falling short of modern standards, while far more culpable non-Western societies get a free pass. Today, universities rebrand buildings named after long dead slave owners, while courting wealthy sheiks who may have owned people in their youths. President Obama, who removed a bust (in fairness, one of two) of Winston Churchill from the White House, probably never learned at Harvard that Churchill fought slavery in traditional Sudan, Nazi Germany, and Communist Russia.

Always remember that there are two countries in the world that paid most of the price for ending slavery in the west, they are Great Britain and the United States. Britain mostly but not completely in Gold, and the US mostly but not completely in (its own) blood. Does that carry a lesson about why the US and UK are still hated all over the world?

Yes, yes it does.

Simple really, Evil always has and always will hate good.

Dawning of the Pelagian Age

Senator Josh Hawley

The other day, in trying to sort out the various types of conservatives, here, we mentioned Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, as one of the rising stars of conservatism, in the Post Liberal group. I’m not the only one who noticed his article in Christianity Today So did Gene Veith over at Cranach, my favorite Lutheran blog. Here’s some of what he said.

That we are unused to hearing this level of analysis from an election official is itself telling, but Sen. Hawley, the youngest member of the Senate at 39, is being hailed as a rising star of the conservative movement and the Republican party for his ability to bring together conservatism and populism, as in the way he is leading the charge to apply anti-trust law to Google, FaceBook, Apple, and Amazon.

At any rate, consider what he says:

Pelagius held that the individual possessed a powerful capacity for achievement. In fact, Pelagius believed individuals could achieve their own salvation. It was just a matter of them living up to the perfection of which they were inherently capable. As Pelagius himself put it, “Since perfection is possible for man, it is obligatory.” The key was will and effort. If individuals worked hard enough and deployed their talents wisely enough, they could indeed be perfect.

This idea famously drew the ire of Augustine of Hippo, better known as Saint Augustine, who responded that we humans are not achievement machines. We are fragile. We are fallible. We suffer weakness and need. And we all stand in need of God’s grace.

But Pelagius was not satisfied. He took his stand on an idea of human freedom. He responded that God gave individuals free choice. And he insisted that this free choice was more powerful than any limitation Augustine identified. . . .Pelagius said that individuals could use their free choice to adopt their own purposes, to fix their own destinies—to create themselves, if you like. That’s why a disciple of Pelagius named Julian of Eclanum said freedom of choice is that by which man is “emancipated from God.”. . . .

Perhaps the most eloquent contemporary statement of Pelagian freedom appears in an opinion from the United States Supreme Court, in a passage written by former Justice Anthony Kennedy. In 1992, in a case called Casey v. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, he wrote this: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

It’s the Pelagian vision. Liberty is the right to choose your own meaning, define your own values, emancipate yourself from God by creating your own self. Indeed, this notion of freedom says you can emancipate yourself not just from God but from society, family, and tradition.

The Pelagian view says the individual is most free when he is most alone, able to choose his own way without interference. Family and tradition, neighborhood and church—these things get in the way of uninhibited free choice. And this Pelagian idea of freedom is one our cultural leaders have embraced for decades now.

But here’s the paradox. For all the big talk about individual freedom, Pelagian philosophy has made American society more hierarchical, and it has made it more elitist.

This is no accident. Pelagius himself was most popular with the old senatorial families of Rome—the wealthy, the well-connected. The aristocrats. They were his patrons. And why? He validated their privilege and their power.

Because if freedom means choice among options, then the people with the most choices are the most free. And that means the rich. And if salvation is about achievement, then those with the most accolades are righteous, and that means the elite and the strong. A Pelagian society is one that celebrates the wealthy, prioritizes the powerful, rewards the privileged. And for too long now, that has described modern America.

[Keep reading. . .]

Sen. Hawley goes on to explore the political and economic implications of Pelagianism.  Let’s think some more about the moral and cultural issues.

A question presents itself:  If we reject Pelagianism, doesn’t that mean we reject freedom?  Not at all!  Freedom is a good thing.  It is a moral necessity, since there can be no virtue if a person is forced to do the right thing.  An action must be taken freely if it is to have moral significance.  The will is a crucial faculty of the mind and the personality.

But for all of their importance, freedom and the will are not determinative.  They do not save us.  They do not determine what we should do.  They do not determine what is real.

But this is exactly what we are seeing in the Age of Pelagius.

As I have often pointed out, postmodernist ethics are built around the will.  Advocates of abortion call themselves “pro-choice.”  Whatever the woman chooses in regards to her pregnancy and her child is right for her.  If she is forced to have a child she does not want (another “will” term), that would be evil (which is why those who seem to be moral relativists can still demonize pro-lifers).  What determines the rightness or wrongness of an action is the presence of a willful choice.  This applies also in other issues, such as euthanasia (“if the patient chooses to die, who are we to say ‘no’?”).

Indeed, Keep Reading, including the comments

Sometimes with an article like this, I feel like I’m cheating, giving you someone else’s views rather than my own. That could be true, but it is not, because I completely agree with Dr. Veith (as I usually do, and do here) and he is a better writer than I am, so why hurt the message by trying to rephrase it. It’s the classical case for reblogging, of course, which I, like most of us, occasionally do. I dislike reblogging though because it is not particularly fair to the article you are reblogging because the snippet used is usually not enough to make sense of the author’s point

What Senator Hawley says (or what I say comparatively quietly) doesn’t do much of anything about solving the problem, of course, except that to solve a problem, first you need to figure out the basics of what the problem is. This moves along that course.

The other thing about this is that it is analysis by an elected official of a type not seen in the US in at least 150 years, since the heirs of the Founders, the generation of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, culminating in Lincoln. It’s been sorely missed.

The Mighty Endeavor

My traditional post for June 6th, seen most years…

 

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prologue:

Seventy-five years ago, night before last a Royal Air Force Group Captain delivered a weather briefing to an obscure American general. The general had an operation planned and the weather was very iffy. But, that general, who was a staff major in 1940 said, “OK, let’s go”

And so after planning and deception efforts reaching back to before Pearl Harbor, an operation was launched. It would invade France’s Normandy peninsula. Its name was OVERLORD.

It was a huge risk, and there was no ‘Plan B’. If it failed, obviously that general’s career would end, his name was Eisenhower, by the way, so would his boss’s General Marshall, and probably his boss Franklin Roosevelt, for this was 1944, and it was an election year. The Prime Minister, and government, of the United Kingdom, would fall.

But the real damage was none of these, these were individual men, and their fate, while important, was not critical. What was critical was that Central and Western Europe would become the prize of the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This was the very last chance for freedom in and of the west.

And so, in one of history’s momentous decisions, GEN Eisenhower said, “OK, let’s go”.

For planning purposes, everything had been planned to happen so many days before or after the day of execution, which up till that time had always been called “D-Day”. It never would be again. Because it was a singular operation, unlike anything seen before, and never seen again.

Prelude

Starting at about 0200 on Tuesday, the sixth of June, 1944, forever afterward known as D-Day, the United States 82d Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne Division, the British 6th Airborne Division, the Canadian 1st Parachute Battalion, and other attached units parachuted into Normandy, more than 13,000 paratroopers. carried by 925 C-47 aircraft. The drops were badly scattered by winds and flak but eventually, the units were able to consolidate and achieve their objectives. They also demonstrated how disruptive “little groups of paratroopers” can be to an enemy. They were joined later in the day by another 4000 glider-borne troops.

Shortly after 0630, the American 2d Ranger Battalion landed at Pointe de Hoc to begin their epic, and costly battle to take the bluffs, which held 6 German 155 mm guns.

The Main Event

U.S. Army troops wade ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944, although planned for the morning of 5 June, but delayed one day due to weather in France.

Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha, and Utah, are now names which will live forever in the iconography of freemen, but on 6 June 1944, they were merely code names, for the five beaches. At early dawn Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey gave the order to launch the invasion, I like to think that he actually used the traditional naval command, “Land the Landing Party”. If so, what a landing party: From the United States: 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division. From the British Army: 3rd British Infantry Division,  50th British Infantry Division. From the Canadian Army the  3rd Canadian Infantry Division. They were supported by 12,000 aircraft under Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, coming from the 8th United States Army Air Force, the 9th United States Army Air Force and the Royal Air Force’s 2d Tactical Air Force. The invasion fleet consisted of over 6,300 vessels ranging from battleships like the USS Texas to LCVPs that could land a squad of infantry.

It was a very near run event, as the current was high, the water was choppy, and the Germans had been reinforced. 12 Medals of Honor were won this day, including one by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., (awarded posthumously) as well as a Victoria Cross. But the lodgment was secured and 11 months later Nazi Germany surrendered.

They went into battle with a prayer from America led by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

I was very pleased when President Trump chose to merely read this prayer yesterday at the commemoration in Portsmouth. It was befitting a strong Christian country.

This is not meant to be a history of the operation, that would take several bookshelves and has been done, my purpose here is to commemorate these men and show how their achievement has altered history.

Aftermath

Most of you know the rough outlines of the story, the British stalled trying to take Caen. In fairness, the British could not afford to take casualties, remember they had lost almost an entire generation merely 26 years earlier. The Americans attacked into the bocage country of Normandy, which the American Army, as always designed for movement, found very difficult. The best explanation may well be that of “an irresistible force meeting an immovable object”.  Eventually, the force triumphed and 3d United States Army debouched onto the plains of France, stopping only when they ran out of gas in the approaches to Germany. As we have said, 11 months later, Nazi Germany surrendered.

Historical Consequences

But the invasion was a gamble, what would have happened if it failed? Undoubtedly, the Americans would have transferred whatever forces were left to the Mediterranean to be part of Operation Dragoon which landed in the south of France 2 weeks later. This could never have been a war winner though, the best it could have done is tied down some German forces from moving to the Eastern Front. So, the war in Europe would have ended with the Red Army conquering Germany, and who’s not to say they wouldn’t have come on through France as well. Simple prudence would seem to demand it, while the American emphasis would have been transferred to the war against Imperial Japan. The result is Europe from Portugal to the Urals, and from Lappland to Italy dominated by Moscow. But the Invasion succeeded due to the Valor of the English speaking peoples. There is a Churchill quote taken from his speech to the House of Commons on 18 May 1940 that comes to mind.

We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.

On Tuesday, 06 June 1944, the Americans and the Canadians, supported by the conquered people of Europe, in concert with the British Army, guarded primarily by the British Fleet, that promise was made good.

But it doesn’t end there either, for, without this successful invasion, the Soviets would have controlled all of Europe, and probably still would. Would Britain have survived, for that matter would North America? It’s not for us to know, neither is it a sure thing.

But certainly, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact would not have fallen as soon as 1990, thus making Europe from Portugal to the Urals and the North Pole to Sicily free.

As he often did, President Reagan said it better than anyone, when addressing those American Rangers we spoke of earlier, at the 40th anniversary of D-Day he said.

…The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe de Hoc.

These are the men who took the cliffs.

These are the champions who helped free a continent.

These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life…and left the vivid air signed with your honor….

This was the spirit that animated the entire force that conquered fascism, In the words of another great general, “They came, They saw, and They Conquered”. And so the lighted torch of freedom was maintained for another generation. But the struggle continues.

 

The State Visit Begins

And so it begins, as always without public drama from the principals, although Trump has already told Khan to STFD, although he was rather kinder about it. Here’s what it looked like at Windsor Castle

It’s nice to have Russia today, that way we don’t have to listen to the very nearly hateful commentary from British and American commentators.

The main point of the week is, of course, to pay honor to the warriors of the Anglosphere who, starting this week, 75 years ago freed the continent of Europe from the Nazis.

A bit before my time, but not all that much, and I remember men who were there, and who lost friends on those much-honored beaches.

Interesting this morning, that my favorite British political blog, The Conservative Woman has no less than three articles that bear on the President’s visit.

  1. Donald backs Nigel – so how about you, Tory hopefuls?
  2. Thirty reasons why we welcome you, Mr President

  3. A guide to Britain for Trump – and the Remainers

All good, and touching on different facets of our special relationship.

There is also this, from one of the most sensible men in Parliament, Sir John Redwood

Why President Trump deserves Britain’s respect

He’s right of course, but neither should we forget the respect we owe Britain. Our conceptions of liberty, freedom, and all things to do with a proper society come from this foggy little island. They talk about the Mother of Parliaments, and they are not wrong, but there is so much more, here is where the power of the king was first checked by the Barons, and then by the Commons, and now the people are undertaking the task of checking the power of the Commons, and their very own version of the swamp that we too are fighting.

And remember, of us all, this week. the British are the ones who voluntarily entered the war to try to save Poland, the rest of us responded to attacks. These are incredibly brave and moral people. They like us, worry that things have changed, well, I’ll be surprised if they really have.

And yes, it was fun to see the Queen and the President reviewing the troops while the band played the US service songs. As we’ve often said, “Nobody does it better!”

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