Monday, June 6, 2011

The Definition of Sacrifice

This is called a "rant". I do this only because I am one of the few in this generation who has served in combat. So, those are my credentials, like 'em or not.

June 6, 1944 was D-Day. Forget the war movies and the video games. This day was horrible and brutal in ways we can only imagine. It was also necessary. Americans, Britons and other soldiers of the Free World rose to the occasion and breached Hitler's Atlantic Wall, a line of seemingly impenetrable defenses on the coast of France. The only way to accomplish this was a waterborne assault on the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy. The men tasked with this mission knew that only infantry could take and hold the beaches. No amount of naval gunfire and aerial bombing could do the job. Only soldiers armed with rifles can take and hold a piece of ground. This is just an irrefutable law of Land Warfare, and no dreaming, wishful thinking and awesome weaponry can change that.

These soldiers knew that, and willingly boarded the landing craft headed for the beaches code-named: Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno. The night before, paratroopers and glider-borne commandos had been dropped behind the beaches to help pave their way. They suffered innumerable casualties as the mission went awry. The troops headed for the beaches also suffered heavy casualties when the German defenders unleashed heavy artillery and machine-gun fire on the those soldiers. On Omaha Beach alone, the units tasked with that sector suffered 9000 killed and wounded. The men who survived this still had another 10 months of bitter fighting to endure before the Nazis surrendered in April 1945.

The Americans whom served in World War II were faced with this task and performed it because of the simple fact that they had a job to do. There was no else whom could do this, and it had to be done. Back home, citizens donated their scrap and rationed food in order to support the war effort. They sacrificed so much, also.

We need to remember and emulate this mindset in our own time. There is too much complaining and bickering in the American culture right now. It almost seems like no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. We put sports figures, politicians and Hollywood celebrities on pedestals. There are too many citizens who feel that everybody owes them. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Globe, their peers are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, repeating the sacrifices of their grandparents.

The veterans of World War II and Korea are leaving us every day. These Americans belong on pedestals. Today's youth who serve our country now belong up there with them. Back here at home, it just doesn't seem like there is the same level of effort; no sense of doing without for our country's sake.

I aim to help change that...

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