Remember the Boys of Pointe du Hoc
Today is the 61st anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France--the decisive campaign in the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi tyranny. It is also the 21st anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's speech at the Pointe du Hoc landing site in Normandy, where he spoke to veterans of the battle along with world leaders gathered in rememberance. President Reagan's remarks, now commonly known as the "Boys of Pointe du Hoc" speech, recounted the story of the US Army Ranger battalion that took the German 155mm artillery emplacement at a cost of 80 killed and 55 wounded out of a force of 225 men.
These are the 30 meter (100 ft.) cliffs that US Army Rangers scaled under fire on D-Day
The following excerpt from Reagan's speech is very telling:
Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.What remains true to this day are the motivations of the men and women of our armed forces: "It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love."
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge--and pray God we have not lost it--that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
It also speaks of what continues to separate the United States from all other nations in the last century: "It was the deep knowledge--and pray God we have not lost it--that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest."
Which brings us to the one point Reagan made that no longer applies in today's United States: "All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you." The first half remains true, but sadly, the second no longer applies to our nation as a whole.
Unlike the GI of World War 2, today's soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting on two fronts. Far from home, they protect us by waging war against the enemy of Western Civilization, the jihadist army of Islamic Fundamentalism. But on the airwaves and pages of the mainstream media, our soldiers face continuous attacks and libel by the elitist members of the Fourth Estate. The press, which fancies itself as the watchdog of American politics, desperately wants to see George W. Bush and the US military fail in the War on Terror. How else to explain the media's latest hysterics concerning Muslim prisoners' Korans that may have been dropped on the floor, touched without surgical gloves or splattered with a few drops of urine--either untrue accusations or done accidentally, of course--while virtually ignoring the civilian head-chopping and suicide-bombing tactics of the jihadist enemy?
Our successes on the Afghan and Iraqi fronts of the War on Terror are rarely reported by internationally or even within our own country. Fortunately for us, today's American soldier fights not to win political points, score a financial windfall or gain sympathetic headlines. Like the Boys of Pointe du Hoc, today's armed forces personnel understand the fundamental nature of our struggle against the enemy, modern-day fascism embodied by the terrorists and the totalitarian nations that sponsor them. On this day, all real Americans should recognize the achievements of the Boys of Pointe du Hoc and their modern counterparts, the volunteers in our American armed forces. They shall not be forgotten.