It is the anniversary of D-day. On anniversaries that aren’t “round numbers” few even remember to mark the day, the news coverage is absent and politicians tend to ignore it. When you review the losses not just of that day but the entire Battle of Normandy the numbers are staggering. One wonders if today the event would be characterized in the same way and whether over 10,000 Allied casualties in a single day would be reported as a great tragedy, a sign our military planners had failed us in some way.
This week I attended the Bradley Symposium at which frequent COMMENTARY contributor Victor Davis Hanson presented his essay “Memory and Civic Education: The Perils of Cultural Amnesia” and spoke of the arrogance and the lack of perspective which comes from ignorance about our history. His observations seem extremely pertinent with regard to WWII. How many Americans know about Tarawa, a true debacle in which the U.S. suffered 3000 casualties, or know the basic facts about the Battle of the Bulge where over 19,000 Americans were killed? Not enough.
Some basic historical literacy might provide Americans with some perspective on our current war and some understanding that even in the greatest triumph, mistakes, horrid mistakes, are made and yet through enormous bravery and determination we can persevere. At the very least we might have an appreciation for the enormity of the sacrifices needed to destroy fascism in the 20th century.