When Generation X, Y and the Millenniums have a hard time recalling the Vietnam War, it makes it easy to understand why seminal dates in history for the Baby Boomers and those older do not get much attention these days.
But today, of some 16 million who served in World War II, an estimated 1.7 still living will recall “D-Day.”
Among those 16 million who served, almost 300,000 died in battle and more than 100,000 died in non-combat incidents. And some 200,000 took part in the landing at Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.
The world has changed drastically in the near seven decades since “D-Day,” a battle that certainly marked the beginning of the end for Adolph Hitler and his minions. The way we fight wars has changed, too.
Weapons technology and precision warfare preclude massive undertakings such as the one planned for "D-Day." In some cases, the “human element” in contemporary battle involves technicians far from the action directing drones.
But that said, there is always a human element, and the end result of war does not change: injury, death and destruction for combatants and bystanders — the innocent and the not so innocent.
The countless documentaries done on the Normandy invasion attest to that. Soldiers, many in their teens, were subjected to horrors that most cannot imagine with survival more a matter of luck than intention.
“D-Day” is a day that no generation should forget, one that serves as a reminder that the cost of fighting tyranny comes with a big bill. Few Americans will ever get the chance to know what that means. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor reports that during the past decade, less that 1 percent of Americans served in the military. The same article references a survey of military personnel in which 95 percent of respondents stated that the American people do not understand the level of sacrifice they make.
Those who pay the bill and their loved ones deserve the respect that comes with picking up the tab.