December 21, 2006, - 2:12 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
That’s the question asked in USA Today by liberal former Johnson Administration employee Jack Valenti, who also formerly headed the Motion Picture Association of America. He flew 51 combat missions in WWII as a pilot commander of a B-25 twin-engine attack bomber with the 12th Air Force in Europe.
Answer: NO, the next generation does not value the sacrifice of war. And neither does the current one. That’s why we are losing.
Still, Valenti’s piece is a good one, worthy of a complete read. Here’s what he relayed to his own son:
Perhaps some parents might want to do what I did years ago. When my son was about 14, I took him to Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France. We stood on the bluff above the beach in the same spot where Nazi troops had dug in. They had poured rifle, mortar and machine gunfire onto the U.S. troops clambering out of their landing crafts. They cut them down on the sand and in the water that seemed to still run red with the blood flowing so wantonly on that invasion day, June 6, 1944.
My son was struck with how close it was from the bluff to the beach. I said, “John it was very close, but remember those young boys never turned back, not one of them. They never turned back. They kept coming.”
Then we walked a short distance to the American Cemetery. It is on land a grateful France granted to the United States for use in perpetuity. The Stars and Stripes flies over this cathedral of the dead. We turned our gaze to the grave markers, row upon row upon row, as far as the eye could see. There, I told my son, were buried 9,387 young men, many of whom were in between the ages of 18 and their early 20s, “just a few years older than you are right now,” I said.
We walked among the markers laid out in serried ranks. I asked my son to read the inscriptions on those grave markers, the bland finalities of a young warrior’s life – name, rank, outfit and the day he died ‚Äî lives ended before they could be lived.
Finally, I stopped and looked full face at my son. “John, I want you to know why I brought you here.” He looked puzzled. I said, “I wanted you to understand that these boys, who never knew you, nonetheless gave you the greatest gift one human can give another. They gave you the gift of freedom. They bought and paid for that gift in blood and bravery. They made it possible for you and millions like you to never have to test your own courage to see how you would react when the dagger is at the nation’s belly and death stares you right in the face. You owe them a debt you will never be able to repay.”
Tags: American Cemetery, France, Normandy American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Stars and Stripes, The Stars and Stripes, United States