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Mid-Morning Open Thread [Kris] | Main | Charles Lipson: Mueller's Sinking Reputation
June 06, 2019

The Morning Rant: Minimalist Edition


I chose this photo because it is focused on the personal, but all but one of the men is anonymous...only one face can be seen. That ratio is probably close to the mark, as our World War II veterans pass on, and the memory of what they did fades into the past.

It is easy to lose sight of what the free West accomplished over those six long years. For the first two years, Great Britain fought essentially alone against the rapidly increasing might of Nazi Germany and its allies and proxies. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the typical Englishman to awaken each morning, knowing that his small and poor country was taking on a significant portion of the world's armies. For today at least, I prefer to see Britain as that brave and unyielding force against which the Axis fought until America entered the war. Perhaps a bit of that is left in the DNA of the current occupants of Britannia.

But the West unified on December 7th, 1941, and America brought to bear its martial ferocity combined with industrial and scientific might the likes of which the world had never seen. That Higgins Boat was probably built in New Orleans and shipped to England on one of the 2,700 Liberty ships built during the war. At peak capacity they took only 42 days to build a Liberty ship, and Higgins was building 700 LCVP's each month!

That unmatched industrial might overwhelmed the Japanese and Germans by outbuilding their navies, their air forces and their armies. But those ships and planes and tanks and trucks were filled with American fighting men, without whom the war would have been lost. As Admiral Yamamoto famously said, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

The men in the photo above resolved to win the war, and they knew that in the process many of them would not return home. But they did it by mastering their fear, but relying on each other, by knowing that their country and the world needed them to be giants that day. And giants they were, because the Normandy landings -- the greatest seaborne invasion in history -- was the beginning of the end of the Third Reich. Four months later they entered Germany, five months after that they crossed the Rhine, and by May the war in Europe was over.

The men who scaled the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, or those who landed in those flimsy Higgins boats on the beaches at Omaha and Utah, into the teeth of a stubborn German defense are mostly gone. Some are buried above the beach in the American Cemetery, most have been laid to rest all over America, and all should be remembered forever.


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