D-Day: From The Greatest Generation To The Most Obnoxious Generation

Barrage balloons and shipping at Omaha Beach during the Allied amphibious assault, before the installation of Mulberry Harbour. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Three Lions/Getty Images

June 6, 2024, marks the 80th anniversary of the storming of Normandy on D-Day. The United States and its allies stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Between that date and the end of the war in the European theater, there were 552,117 U.S. casualties; 104,812 Americans were killed in action. On D-Day alone, some 2,501 Americans were killed. 

Why was the war necessary? I know this seems like a stupid question, but there are many people today who don’t understand why the war was necessary. It was because the Nazis were, in fact, an evil regime hell-bent on global domination, with the imposition of their vile system of government and supremacist ideology on the globe. And as we know, World War II also led directly into the next righteous war, the Cold War, wherein the US-led Free World squared off against the Soviet Union, another evil empire. 

Americans saved the world. It is that simple. Had America not intervened in World War II, the end would have been German domination of the European continent. It was American naval resupply of the United Kingdom that allowed the United Kingdom to survive the German Navy’s attempted blockade of the island nation. Upon learning that the U.S. was entering the war, Winston Churchill later wrote, “Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.” 

If the U.S. had not entered the war — if the U.S. had remained truly neutral — the United Kingdom would have been blockaded into submission. The Nazis would have cast their eyes east, at the Soviet Union, and poured resources into its submission. After a period of reconsolidation and strengthening, Hitler’s Navy would have extended its sphere of influence across the Atlantic, particularly south and toward Latin America. Meanwhile, America would have continued to face the threat of the Japanese in the Pacific. 

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In May 1941, FDR laid out the stakes of the conflict between the United States and Germany — months before the United States entered the war. He stated: 

The Nazi world does not recognize any God except Hitler; for the Nazis are as ruthless as the Communists in the denial of God. What place has religion which preaches the dignity of the human being, the majesty of the human soul, in a world where moral standards are measured by treachery and bribery and fifth columnists? Will our children, too, wander off, goose-stepping in search of new gods?

The United States entered the war on December 7, 1941, with Pearl Harbor. Germany declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941. It took three years for the United States and its allies to put themselves in position for the liberation of the European continent across the English channel. Historians at the U.S. Naval Institute suggest that there needed to be four preconditions to a successful amphibious invasion of France: 

  1. Naval superiority in the English Channel
  2. Air superiority over the landing beaches and well inland
  3. Enough troops to establish a beachhead and then match the enemy’s subsequent buildup
  4. Enough shipping and landing craft to carry the troops to the landing points and reinforce them as required

Churchill believed the last two conditions were not fulfilled in 1943, writing, “I do not believe that 27 Anglo-American divisions are sufficient for Overlord [the name for the D-Day invasion] in view of the extraordinary fighting efficiency of the German Army and the much larger forces they could so readily bring to bear against our troops even if the landings were successfully accomplished. 

That had changed by 1944. It was go-time for the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare. Almost 133,000 troops from the United States and their allies landed on D-Day. Casualties from these countries during the landing numbered 10,300. By June 30, over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies had landed on the Normandy shores.

Eisenhower famously issued a letter to the troops as D-Day was about to happen. He wrote:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.

Notice the language: no embarrassment about the use of Christian terminology. He continued: 

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! Let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Notice the kind of language that is used, the language that has been completely lacking in the West pretty much since World War II, the language of total victory, the moral wherewithal to declare the moral superiority of the United States and its allies in the fight. 

FDR went on the radio the night of D-Day, and he issued a prayer. Here is a part of it: 

In this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer: 

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

What exactly were the United States and our allies hoping to preserve? First and foremost, the interests of the United States and a free West, the religion of the West, preserving Christian values in the West. 

The average age of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy was about 26. The men who died at Normandy were invading on behalf of their families, their country, and their churches. They were invading on behalf of the Constitution of the United States and its preservation. They were invading on behalf of Christian values in the face of Nazi paganism. Then, they would later fight the Cold War against Marxist paganism on behalf of Christian values. 

They were the Greatest Generation, in part because they were fighting for the greatest values.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan spoke on the 40th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. Veterans of D-Day were there. He stated:

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Reagan would later say:

It was a very moving experience. They were what General Marshall called ‘our secret weapon. The best damn kids in the world.’ Where do we find such men? The answer came almost as quickly as I’d asked the question: Where we’ve always found them in this country. On the farms, the shops, the stores and the offices. They just are the product of the freest society the world has ever known.

Joe Biden arrived in Normandy yesterday. He said: 

We’re not far off from the time of the last living voices of those who fought and bled on D-Day will no longer be with us. So we have a special obligation. We cannot let what happened here be lost in the silence of the years to come. We must remember it. We must honor it and live it. And we must remember, the fact that they were heroes here that day does not absolve us from what we have to do today. Democracy is never guaranteed. Every generation must preserve it, defend it, and fight for it. That’s the test of the ages. In memory of those who fought here, died here, literally saved the world here, let us be worthy of their sacrifice.

Let us be the generation that when history is written about our time in 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 years from now, it’ll be said when the moment came, we met the moment, we stood strong, our alliances were made stronger, we saved democracy in our time as well. Thank you very much. And may God bless you all and may God protect our troops.

The real question for us on the 80th anniversary of D-Day is the question that Reagan asked: Where do we find such men? Because it honestly raises goosebumps to think of the extraordinary heroism and bravery of normal 18- and 19-year-old men storming beaches, running uphill into machine-gun fire in order to liberate a continent none of them had ever visited. 

Where do we find such men?

That’s a real question: How was the D-Day generation raised? Because that has a lot to do with the kind of men that were produced in the Greatest Generation.

The answer is: They were raised in church. Church membership in 1937 was at 73%. Ninety-six percent of Americans, according to Gallup, said they believed in God in 1944. A grand total of 4% of all households in the United States were single-parent families in 1940. 

In other words, the men of the Greatest Generation were raised by two parents in churchgoing families that believed in God.

It turns out you cannot raise a great generation in a vacuum of values because you can’t raise a great generation without raising a good generation.

How are we doing today? Today, the American single motherhood rate is 41%, 10 times the single motherhood rate in 1937. Only 47% of Americans, a minority of Americans, are members of churches. The churches of today are significantly watered-down from the churches of the 1930s and 1940s, which means that a significant percentage of people who consider themselves members of churches aren’t actually receiving anything like Biblical values. Just 74% of Americans say they believe in God and many of those Americans are actually quasi-agnostic and believe in something spiritual that doesn’t demand anything of them.

The United States has spent the four generations since D-Day removing all the supporting institutions of American life, exploding American values in the name of a heedless picture of emotive individualism in which your feelings are all that matters — whereas going to church instills in you a belief that you are part of something bigger and more important. 

Without those values and their supporting institutions, there is no more Greatest Generation.

Only an obnoxiously self-involved generation.

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