June 6, 1944. The Allied invasion of the northern coast of France. The push-back of the German army, and their ultimate defeat, along with Italy and Japan in the last real war. I say real, because WWII had distinct consequences for all countries involved. As an American, and the son of a WWII veteran (I myself served during the Vietnam conflict) I deeply appreciate and admire how the Allied armies literally SAVED THE WORLD from the demented likes of Hitler and Hirohito. Sadly, on this 67th anniversary of D-Day, a current young generation seems to know so little about the enormity of what was at stake in the fight against fascism. In the ensuing years since the end of WWII, we Americans have seen what appears to be a series of questionable military “adventures”: Korea, Vietnam, Gulf I & Gulf II, along with our presence in Afghanistan. The military and the media call these actions “war,” but really, why are they fought? What freedoms of ours in the U.S. did we seriously risk losing? My generation arguably lost the Vietnam conflict, since the North eventually took over South Vietnam after we bailed out in 1975. What was the consequence for life in America? Nothing, other than our prestige. Those who died fighting in Vietnam (or Korea, considered a “draw,” as if it were a chess game or a boxing match) certainly suffered a consequence, but did our government surrender to an enemy? Hell no! We just said, “we’re splitting” and sent the troops home. Imagine if we had done the same in WWII!! Absurd, of course, because we were actually, honestly fighting for the American way of life then. Now we fight for slogans (and Big Lies). We fight for the military-industrial complex. For oil. Oh, we responded to 911 by going into Afghanistan, which is now a ridiculous quagmire for our troops. Iraq? Please! That was Bush II propagandizing and bullying his way to an illegal invasion of a sovereign country–that had nothing to do with 911. Anyway, these post-Second World War incursions have never been declared a “war” by any Congress (as is supposed to be required to commit troops to combat). The Soviet Union is history, so we no longer have the commie boogeyman.  Now we have terrorism; but other than finally killing Osama Bin Laden, I’m not sure what the hell we’ve accomplished other than getting thousands more of our troops killed with vague and vain military planning. This bit of a rant may seem anti-military, but it’s not. We need to defend ourselves, of course, but from whom, and why? Bin Laden is dead. Why are we still in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why did we invade Vietnam? Korea? Grenada? Because we could? Until there’s tangible,  perceptible, consequences for the public-at-large regarding how we fare in fighting perceived enemies, the only people who pay attention to what’s happening in these conflicts are the soldiers actually fighting them and their family and loved ones. I guarantee that was not the case when we fought in WWII. The entire country knew what was on the line. We came together as a country. Rosie the Riveter! That we prevailed was all that mattered, and thank goodness we did. We knew that there would have been great–and supremely negative–consequences for the USA if we failed to crush Hitler’s army and Japan’s as well. Maybe I’d still be part of this world, but what kind of world would a victorious Hitler/Hirohito be like? For those ever dwindling numbers of WWII vets, thanks for really, truly, fighting a fight that had to be fought.

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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