What are the first thoughts that come mind when thinking of memorial day? Chose from the options below:
1. The Hamptons
4. Day to relax/ family time
5. Remembrance for soldiers.
Although Memorial day is meant to be a remembrance for those who have fallen, it has become highly commercialized. I would suspect that bar the few who have families in the military or loved ones who have fallen, think twice about the topic.
However, there is a reason that one should not feel too bad about this. We will discuss it at the end so read the whole article!
Memorial Day and D-Day
Memorial Day always falls out a few days before D-Day, which occurred on June 6th 1944. I feel a special affinity as someone who hates war. I see World War II as the most just war we ever fought. Many will agree that the Communist takeover in Eastern Europe made World War II have a slightly less happy ending, but bar the Aryan worshippers of the very non Aryan looking Hitler and Himmler, most will agree with my assessment. My grandfather whom I was very close fought many years on the Eastern front and in the battle of Berlin. Many other relatives of mine fought in the Pacific.
Since the summer reading season has kicked off and memorial day is about remembering who fell, I present my list for some of my favorite books on the topic.
Note this article is informal and since it is Memorial Day it is geared towards (our 65% of readers who are) Americans. However, the British, Canadians, Australians (who make up another 10% of our traffic) were great allies in the conflict (as well as many other nations especially the Russians and Chinese). Our enemies in the conflict, Japan, Italy, Germany etc. are now among our closest allies. Since the war spanned several continents, many across the globe can relate.
As I wrote last year that the Americans were unsure whether the invasion of Normandy would succeed. The cost would have been millions of more lives lost, and the possible Communist takeover of Western Europe.
Memorial Day Reading List
The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day by Cornelius Ryan. I read this book in 24 hours. The book discusses the logistical aspects of D-Day, and its astonishing considering how many people were involved the Germans ‘did not realize’ an invasion was coming. Highly recommended.
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor. Good overall book on the D-Day Landings
Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris by John Keegan. Another good one which extends from D-Day to the Battle of Falaise Pocket.
Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944 by Joseph Balkoski. Very dry and hard to understand if you have no military history, but the content is great. If you are a Vet or a fan of military history, this one is for you.
There are many more books which are great, you can see a partial list of books I read over the past few years on the topic here-http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/13877246
Memorial Day, D-Day, and current politics
So first for some optimism. Everyone talks about how things could not be worst in DC than they are now. On one side of the aisle, we have the ‘old white men, Kenyan hating, selfish, racist, 1% ers’, on the other side we have the ‘Stalinists, Terrorist lovers, lazy, big spenders’. Could it get worse? The good news is that it WAS worse.
Here is a little from a great book I just finished. Can you imagine burning effigies of Senators outside Congress? Fist fights in Congress itself? What about the military leaking secrets to smear politicians? This and much more happened before World War II. That in itself can be optimistic it WAS worse. However, it also got better. Since 1940, our economic success has been an envy of the world.
Furthermore, many senior military officials tried to stop our intervention in WWII, hated FDR (and Wendell Willkie), and some were even members of America First. However, they went on to serve the country in senior roles.
Colonel Truman Smith celebrated FDR’s death with laughter, and despite his opposition to the war, Smith was Marshall’s Chief Adviser on Germany. Stanley Dunbar Embick, a bitter opponent of intervention was the key man on the Joint Strategic Survey Committee. General Albert Wedemeyer, another bitter opponent of intervention, severed as the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command (SEAC), and eventually as Chief of U.S. forces in China.
Finally,….. Henry Harley Arnold who leaked military plans to the Chicago Tribune right before WWII started, was chief of the air force and was made a five-star General, placing him fourth in Army rank seniority behind Marshall, MacArthur, and Eisenhower.
Read more in here- Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 by Lynne Olson.
Don’t Feel Bad! Celebrate Memorial Day
So why shouldn’t we feel bad celebrating Memorial Day? Stephen Ambrose assets in his book, Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany that the US troops were better than German troops partially due to the American spirit. While consumerism, moral decay has been cited as reasons for America’s ‘coming downfall’ since the early part of the last Century. However, in fact, the opposite has occurred.
Ambrose notes that in Normandy American soldiers (many of whom received poor training) improvised to fight successfully against top German divisions. Many weapons, inventions and tactics came from individual soldiers on the ground who used their freedom and creativity to think of how to survive and move 100 yards forward. Additionally, he notes that Americans who worked on cars in the summer were put to work fixing tanks. As a result, the American boys in uniform were able to fix tanks and vehicles quicker (and more effectively) than indoctrinated SS Soldiers.
With that, I leave you off; do not forget those who died for our freedom on this Memorial Day but also enjoy the Hamptons (if you can stand it there)!