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It has been 71 years since over a million men stormed the beaches at Normandy. Yet the gifts bought by their sacrifices- and the awesome, and terrible, price paid by more than two hundred and twenty five thousand of them- on that day live on.
A war whose roots stretched back more than thirty years prior to the day of that fateful landing was eventually ended, though not without further vast losses on both sides. The modern world as we know it- for both good and bad- was forged upon the anvil of history that day.
A future of unprecedented peace and plenty, at least for the West, came about directly because of what those men did on the beaches of France that day.
Those of us alive today and fortunate enough to have known lives without war, without turmoil, without living under the yoke of genocidal tyranny, should count ourselves most blessed indeed. The men who stormed those beaches, and fought and choked and bled and died upon them, did so in the hope- forlorn though it was at the time- that their sacrifices would secure a world free of war.
Yet in this regard, we have failed them. We have not created that world- partly because Mankind is incapable of doing such a thing, but mostly because we have ignored and forgotten the lessons taught to us by that age.
We have forgotten the terrible dangers posed by totalitarian ideologies. We have ignored the dangers of weak, fractured, and fragmented states that are incapable of defending their own borders against enemies both outside and inside the gates. We have failed to understand the dire consequences of foolish adventurism and high-minded idealism, and we have avoided taking responsibility when our ideals have been smashed headlong into the brick wall of reality at high speed.
The men who fought at Normany this day, so many years ago, went through their Time of Testing. They gave their all- and, in far too many cases, more- so that we would not have to.
But our Time will come too. There is indeed substantial evidence to suggest that it is already upon us.
Will our grandchildren remember us with the reverence with which we remember our fallen forbears?
Only through our actions can we secure the future for our children, and their children, that those who came before us tried to bequeath to us. There is no guarantee that we will succeed; indeed, there is good reason to believe that we will probably fail.
That, perhaps, is one of the few things that has not changed since 1944. The possibility- probability- of failure didn't stop the heroes of Normandy.
It should not stop us.
HAIL the victorious dead!
Note: I published this on the wrong day, which I suppose I could blame on getting clocked, hard, by two different sparring partners earlier in the week. This would be quite true. It would also be quite true that I can be a massive idiot. So, pick whichever explanation suits you best. As for me, well... oops.