I generally pay no attention to 70th anniversary observances, saving up my energies for the 75-year “diamond jubilee” milestones.
I am making an exception for June 6, the 70th anniversary of D-Day. To put it bluntly, five years could make a lot of difference.
According to recent Veterans Administration statistics, of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, only slightly more than one million remain alive, and they are dying at the rate of 555 a day.
I want to be able to say thanks before another 200,000 vets pass from the scene.
The tyranny-thwarting teamwork, bravery and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation (both in the military and on the homefront) was remarkable. They were the right people for the right time.
Of course my friend Dinsdale had to raise a lot of impertinent questions, and speculate on how D-Day and the war as a whole could have turned out differently if the military had to deal with the distractions, personalities and social trends of today.
For instance, could secrecy have been maintained if the “Loose lips sink ships” slogan had been replaced with “Loose lips need botox”?
What if the forces that landed at Normandy had to take into consideration not only the full moon, weather conditions and the location of German troops, but also the scheduling of “Downton Abbey”?
Could the Allied forces really have pushed on to Berlin if they had to stop at each village and explain, “No, this is really a conquering force. We are NOT a flash mob”?
Would music from back home have been as inspiring if it consisted of ditties such as “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree - That Thing Is Genetically Modified”?
Would the fighting forces have been too mellow if the familiar “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” had been replaced with “Smoke ‘em if the feds don’t block your access to the dispensary, dude”?
Could Operation Overlord have succeeded if some rabble rouser had encouraged the troops to declare, “I ain’t landin’ on no beach without the right SPF”?
Would anyone have passed basic training if the drill sergeant had barked, “Well, the manual is all well and good, but let’s just see what the FOUNDING FATHERS had to say about the care and maintenance of your rifle”?
Would morale have suffered if barracks pinups of voluptuous babes had been replaced with ubiquitous tabloid “baby bump” photos?
Could America have maintained its integrity if FDR had told Hitler, concerning the concentration camps, “You didn’t build that”?
Would anyone have fought as hard if they knew the Nuremberg War Trials would be just a “photo op” for ambassador-at-large Dennis Rodman to chill with his new honorary homeboys?
At least Dinsdale did concede that the other enlistees wouldn’t have made fun of good ol’ Cletus Bugtussle for being the goofy farmboy from Possum Crossroads, Arkansas. No, he would’ve been made fun of for being the goofy farmboy from Possum Crossroads, Arkansas wearing Google Glass!
All in all, I think Dinsdale does a disservice to those who fought and died, or fought and came back to guide the nation through the latter half of the 20th century. They would have excelled, no matter what the obstacles.
Spend June 6 seeking out veterans to thank.
And NOT obsessing over whether Spike Jones singing “Der Feuhrer’s Face” hurt Adolf’s self-esteem.