06 June, 2007

D-Day 2007

[Scroll down for Thursday update]
I was fortunate to be out and about today with my car radio on for a re-broadcast of D-Day speeches by FDR and Ronald Reagan delivered respectively, a few hours and 40 years after the fact. Absolutely riveting and highly recommended. (I seldom use such superlatives.)

Particularly noteworthy to those under the impression that this nation sprang from essentially secular roots, that a few Republican zealots have thrust religion on a reluctant people in the last quarter-century, that church and state must never mix in any form at any time, or that angels don't ride in the whirlwind and direct the storm: in a six-minute national radio address on June 6th, 1944, President Roosevelt spent nearly three full minutes on one prayer, followed by nearly two minutes on a second.

Equally noteworthy: he prays for the eternal deliverance of what he knows are many thousands of American and Allied soldiers dying at that very moment as a result of his weighty and difficult decision to oppose evil. It's difficult to place oneself in that context, remembering that--from our human perspective--the result of that battle, and the war, were anything but certain.

Reagan's two short speeches (at Point du Hoc and Omaha Beach in 1984) are equally riveting--the echoes with current conflicts inescapable and highly germane. His remarks directed to survivors sitting in the audience are positively electric in juxtaposition with FDR's real-time prayer for their success and deliverance.

Just wow. Go listen.

On my way home, I drove past two Jewish temples, parking lots full, holding services for Shavu'ot, the Festival of Weeks. How much emptier they might have been... Sadly, the Jewish people are once again the canary in the coal mine for the spread of evil in the world as an Iranian madman flexes his growing diplomatic and military muscles. Have we not learned?

I returned home to my parents watching the French Open on television. Can you even imagine the tenor of such an event taking place seven decades into a Third Reich covering Europe?

Watch for updates. I will be attending my daughter's high school graduation in a few hours. If the intensely left-wing slant of the place holds true to form, I expect nary a hint or a nod at the historical import of this day. I hope to be pleasantly surprised. I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE: Far worse than I could ever have imagined. Here's my letter to the editor of our local paper (location-sanitized for the blog):

When the American flag blew over during the Mayor's remarks early on in the high school's graduation ceremonies, someone had a choice. Someone could have substituted it for the Massachusetts flag that stayed up throughout the ceremony, or held it up until another way was found to re-erect it. Someone could have made it a priority to keep a vital, enduring symbol of our nation’s shared history, sacrifice, aspirations and values in front of several hundred graduating seniors.

No one did. Instead, the flag was unceremoniously rolled up and left lying on the ground at the back of the dignitaries’ platform for the remainder of the proceedings. The subliminal message was obvious: it doesn’t matter.

Until it became clear that the flag would stay down, it had been possible to forgive a stirringly well-sung if unusual anthem referencing “bright stripes and broad stars” in which Francis Scott Key watches the ramparts rather than the flag gallantly streaming o’er them. Or to pardon Principal [X]’s unfortunate decision to cite Ted Kennedy’s remarks from the school’s 1967 graduation. (Commenting on the still hot Six-Day War, the Senator had laid out a moral equivalence argument, obliquely chastising Israel for defending itself against its would-be destroyers.) It was more difficult to overlook the fact that not a single speaker even hinted at the import of June 6th in American history.

In the context of those things, the hasty and disrespectful removal of the flag seemed to fit right in. On the 63rd anniversary of Allied landings at Normandy (aka, D-Day)—arguably the most important battle in a war in which well over 100 of this city's high school graduates gave their lives to push back tyranny and re-establish freedom—I was ashamed and saddened to think of them looking down and asking: “Did we really die for THIS?”