Today is June 6, 2013
69 years earlier, on June 6, 1944 Operation Overlord began; what we know as D-Day. The Allies would begin the largest amphibious landing in history and in doing so breach the Atlantic wall and gain a foothold in Fortress Europe held by Nazi Germany and its Fascist allies, Italy and Spain. Over 156,000 American men landed on those Normandy beaches that day with over 6,000 becoming casualties.
At 5:55 am the Battleship Texas would open fire with all 10 of her massive 14” guns firing the first shots that fateful morning. She commenced fire for 34 minutes straight, launching 255 shells at the enemy; an average of 7.5 shells per minute. Her gun support left craters the size of basketball courts that still remain to this day.
Operation Overlord would continue until August 25th, 1944. During that time the Battleship Texas participated in liberating the French port of Cherbourg by dueling with German artillery. During that dual, 2 German shells impacted the Texas. One, a dud, wound up in a sailors bunk; a hot German fraulein that he didn’t want to sleep with. The second, impacted under the main steering bridge and detonated. The resulting explosion injured 11 men, killing one. His name, Chris Christensen.
In the 34 years of her history, the Battleship Texas would fight in both World War 1 and 2 during which she earned 5 Battle stars. The Normandy campaign, Operation Overlord was her second star. She earned her first star in 1942 supporting troops landing in Morocco, Africa then escorting a young reporter home to report on those landings. His name? Walter Cronkite. Later, she would fight off Japanese kamikaze pilots in the Pacific theatre yet with all that fighting Chris Christensen would remain as the sole combat casualty on board the Battleship Texas during her 34 years of service.
He was but one man, but he represented nearly half a million men who died defending freedom and liberty during World War 2. A war that had been under way for more than 2 years when we entered it very suddenly and violently on December 7, 1941.
That date would live in infamy as the Japanese destroyed our Pacific Fleet. We had 16 Battleships in our fleet, 8 of them at Pearl Harbor. By mornings end, all 8 were damaged or destroyed and those 8 were our best battleships. Aging battlewagons, such as the Battleship Texas were due to be retired from service but were forced back into action due to necessity.
But Pearl Harbor was just the beginning. Japan went on to conquer the Pacific with nation after nation succumbing along with every American outpost. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island. By June of 1942, Japan sat poised to rule the entire Pacific Rim with a final victory at Midway.
History tells us that the tide turned there, though at the time we didn’t know it. Admiral Nimitz would commit the entire US carrier fleet of 3 carriers against the Japanese fleet with 6 Carriers and at least 5 Battleships. Two years prior to D-Day, on June 4 -7th, 1942 the Battle of Midway would commence and Admiral Nimitz would hand the Japanese their worst defeat in 350 years.
As we remember our history it is important to understand that there is much we can learn from it that applies to us today. There are many parallels to that war and our current situation.
The idea of Carrier Warfare was an idea shunned by our Admiralty but embraced by our enemy. Tradition dictated that we fight as we had always fought, battlewagon to battlewagon. But there were those that recognized the old ways needed to be swept aside and two such individual were Admiral Nimitz and Halsey. Nimitz would command the fleet at Midway and hand the Japanese their worst naval defeat in 350 years.
Today, we have an old guard that insists we have to do politics much the same way as we’ve always done. But history will remember men such as Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, rather than John McCain, as the heroes who turned back the tide of tyranny. Just as Admiral Nimitz recognized the value of a nimble carrier fleet and projection of air power, so too do we recognize the value of social media, the internet, and a new way of approaching politics that is far from business as usual.
Admiral Nimitz committed all 3 of his carriers to that action at Midway and one, the Yorktown, shouldn’t have sailed. Yet, she did and would serve with distinction before finally sinking there. He had no battleships for that fight and won with airpower alone. Conservatives are behind in the creation of social media sites like Upworthy but we are committed and fight with what we do have and in 2010 that commitment turned the tide.
The election of 2010 is comparable in many ways to the Battle of Midway. The tide had turned. Yet a long difficult fight remained ahead of them. We need to remember the many battles fought after June 6, 1942. Over 4,000 men lost on D-Day two years later, 6,000 at Iwo Jima, 8,000 at Okinawa and nearly half a million men gave all by the wars end.
November of 2010 was a turning point but the war against tyranny is far from over. Though it might seem like early 1942 for us, we have turned the tide. We do have many hard fought battles ahead of us against a committed and well trained enemy that never stops. We may lose some along the way, but we cannot stop fighting or give in even when it seems that tyranny is literally on our very doorstep.
This is not the first time we have fought tyranny here at home. It was very nearly lost under President Woodrow Wilson, a fascist President who imprisoned 25,000 – 150,000 political prisoners here in the United States; citizens who had the audacity to speak out against him. His tyranny would not last. Freedom would again rise in this nation and men and women would march against it and free Europe and the Pacific from it.
Our national history is fraught with those who would impose their rule on others, and fail. The brutal war on the American Indian tribes, the interment of US Citizens of Japanese descent during World War 2, the political prisoners of Woodrow Wilson, and the Battle of Athens to name a few. There are those that say it can’t or won’t happen here and to them I say, “It already has”.
With the scandals plaguing our nation, many of which are blatant violations of our civil liberties, it can be disheartening, depressing, and discouraging. It would seem tyranny had gained the upper hand with the casual disregard that those in power give to said scandals. Yet there remains hope.
I would like to go back to 1944 and read the speech that then General Eisenhower gave to the troops prior to the invasion.
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
– Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
69 years later, I would use his speech to encourage all of you to continue the fight they so desperately fought on this day. We do not fight, at the moment, with firearms storming beaches. Our fight exists in the culture. It is a scary time, freedom and liberty are in retreat; tyranny is once again on the march. We must fight tyranny, once again, in our own nation. But be encouraged.
Men, such as myself, stand firm against tyranny. We stand firm against the abuse of power by our own Government. We stand, unafraid, and speak out. Do not let fear saddle your heart, soul, and mind. Throw off the shackles of fear. Throw off the shackles that would bind and cripple you for you are in the company of good men and woman who haven’t forgotten the birthright given to them their grandparents who fought so hard during that war.
I am my Grandfather’s heir. A man who worked tirelessly during World War 2 building B-17 bombers for brave pilots and gunners who sacrificed all over the skies of Germany. I have not forgotten their sacrifice, nor have many other men and woman across this nation.
It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword. So we take up the pen, the keyboard, the camera, to fight against the tyranny in our own nation. We fight, as our grandparents fought, with courage, with valor, and a steely determination to win, despite the odds.
As we remember the sacrifices of those men from so many years ago, let us honor their sacrifice, their memory by continuing their fight against tyranny. Let us resolve to win, just as they did, with the utter defeat of our enemy.
And let me quote General Eisenhower once again, “Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”