The D-Day Question

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June 7, 2010 by David Gillaspie

D-Day celebrates The Greatest Generation, the guys and gals who fought The Last Good War.  I celebrate every year and so should you.  Veteran’s Day is Remembrance Day and Armistice Day; Memorial Day is Decoration Day.

Only D-Day is D-Day.

Saving Private Ryan shows D-Day like you hope you’d never see it.  But you’ve seen it.  Maybe not on June 6, but you’ve seen it. 

If there’s a favorite part to Saving Private Ryan, it’s hard to find.  The grim, to grimmer, to grimmest story doesn’t lend itself to favorite parts.

Spoiler:

Tom Hanks dies.  What else could be more of a downer?

His death didn’t ruin the movie, but it was a shock.

Isn’t that what Saving Private Ryan is all about?  The shock of what those troops went through?  It’s easier to understand if you ask yourself a few questions on D-Day:

Would you have the guts to run up a beach?

The strength to run up a beach carrying infantry gear?

Do you have the balls to run up a beach carrying infantry gear early in the morning?

The guts to run up a beach carrying infantry gear in the morning after crossing a channel of water in rough seas with the guy next to you puking on your leg?

Would you have the guts to run up a beach carrying infantry gear in the morning after crossing a channel of water in rough seas with the guy next to you puking on your leg after the guy in front of you drops, the guys beside you splatter and you trip and the guy behind you falls on top of you?

The guts to run up a beach carrying infantry gear in the morning after crossing a channel of water in rough seas with the guy next to you puking on your leg after the guy in front of you drops, the guys beside you splatter, you trip and the guy behind you falls on top of you and you think about staying right there except you think you can still move, so you do?

Now ask, could you do all that with German machine guns chopping up everyone around you?

That’s D-Day, and yes you could.

Only D-Day is D-Day.

It asks just one thing:

Could you do it?  Could you ride over the English Channel and run out on a beach peppered with machine gun fire?  Could you move forward even though it looks like certain death?

You’re feet are so numb you don’t trust your balance.  Someone is crying.  The ramp drops down.

What did those men do? 

They ran into the surf and up the beach and became the Greatest Generation.  They took out Germany in the Last Good War.

When you see documentary film clips you see objects floating in the surf.  Some of them are bodies of men Killed In Action, or KIA.

D-Day asks if you’ve got the guts to repeat that landing, at least in your imagination.  Well, what do you say?  Do you? 

Before answering, remember that U.S. soldiers go to battle every day right now.  Their choices aren’t theoretical; their lives are already on the line a long way from home.  Don’t bother asking them about D-Day. 

They’re already there.

What if you checked the freshman dorms across America?  Would you find the young men needed to charge the beaches at Normandy?  Current opinions on health and well-being suggest the youth of America are all fat and lazy and obsessed with video games. 

At least that’s the results coming from lazy, fat, researchers who take a glancing survey and call it good. 

A deeper look shows a population able to do anything those before them did.  And do it better.  Check the demographic at the local gym.  You might not find a humble farm kid with a yearning to lend a hand, but you will find some hard-nosed characters who won’t back down.  You couldn’t swing a kettle ball without hitting eight guys ready to go, and it’s not because of ‘roids.

Look in every wrestling room across the country and you’ll find self-driven athletes who are harder on themselves than any generation before them.  Why?  Because they know they participate in a sport so far from the limelight that colleges feel they can cut wrestling programs and no one will notice.  They’re on the line every day, and they benefit more than any other athlete.

Did Germany cut any sports in 1936, the last Olympics before WWII, the Berlin Olympics?  No, and they came in first in overall medal count with eighty nine to America’s fifty six.  Those are the guys America faced on D-Day.  If you want a closer look, google Triumph of the Will.  

No one wanted to take on Germany, for good reason, but D-Day changed that opinion, along with world history.  America still has a wide streak of guys ready to change history like the D-Day guys. 

Now ask yourself, what are you taking on?  How about your friends?  Are you changing anything with your actions?

Let’s hear about it.

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