Subject: Honoring America’s Military Part 4 – Our World War II Veterans
Joshua 1:5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life… I will not leave you nor forsake you.”
A 2016 Gallup survey of college students revealed that, by over a 50 percent margin, our 18-24 year olds believe their university should forbid people from speaking on campus if they engage in what they label as “hate speech.” But Professor Frank Furedi, a leading expert on the sociology of fear, exposes what is really happening in our universities: “Student protesters today draw attention to their victim status, flaunt their sensitivity to offense and constantly talk about their feelings… academic institutions treat students as incapable of exercising the responsibilities of adulthood, protecting students from the effects of sensitive subjects. Is it any surprise that many academics have decided to “watch their words” and avoid the hassle of teaching sensitive topics altogether? The academy needs to learn again to treat students as adults rather than children.” What these kids need is a history lesson – and this week is where to start.
June 6, 2017 marks 73 years since D-Day, the Normandy invasion that turned World War II against Hitler’s tyrannical Third Reich. Over 29,000 American soldiers died on these five beaches. That’s more than six times the number of American soldiers killed in the entire Iraq war. The ages of our soldiers on D-Day ranged from 18 to 24 – the same age group as our student protestors. But that’s where the similarity ends.
Of the five beaches invaded that day, the heaviest casualties occurred on ‘Omaha’ beach. The opening scene in the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is the Omaha Beach landing, where these young men listened to German machine gun bullets hitting the front hatch of their boat as they neared their drop zone. The men in front, up against the hatch, knew they were going to get hit when that hatch dropped open. 18-24 years old – halfway around the world, sitting ducks for the Germans… and ready to give their lives.
What made things worse that day on Omaha Beach, which these soldiers didn’t know, is that the battleship Texas, 12 miles offshore and assigned to take out those German machine gun nests, overshot the beach. The soldiers didn’t get any protection. All hell broke loose as our young men were mowed down.
Yet, all five beaches at Normandy were taken that day, by 18-24 year old soldiers who put their futures on hold, most enlisting voluntarily, to fight Nazism. I am part of the “Baby Boomer” generation. The 18-24 year olds protesting “hate speech” are part of “Generation X”. But these heroes on D-Day who led the defeat of tyrannical Nazism, who secured Generation X’s right to protest, are America’s “Greatest Generation”.
Do we ever look back with gratitude on these heroes? Here are sections of former President Ronald Reagan’s speech on June 6, 1984, the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, to help us: “40 summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love. The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt. And something else helped the men of D-day: their rockhard belief that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we’re about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.’ These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that are worth fighting and dying for. We will always remember. We will always be proud.”
Our verse this week is what many of those soldiers like General Ridgeway held tightly in their hearts as they gave their lives to gain our freedom. The God of the Bible, who led the nation of Israel to victory over their enemies in the Old Testament, is the same God who secured our victory on the Cross of Calvary in the New Testament with the same promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Let’s teach this history lesson to our Generation X protestors – they might understand what true heroes look like.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #246