Thirty years ago today, President Ronald Reagan stood on the ground taken from the German Army taken, at a tremendous cost, by Companies D, E and F of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. The Army Rangers won the day at Pointe du Hoc, the US and allied forces carried the longest day on the beaches of Normandy, and in slightly less than one year, carried the day, freeing Europe.
That was then.
Today, we seem unable to muster the fortitude, politically, not militarily, to win a war. We’re willing, too willing some would say, to go into battle, to commit our young men to harm’s way, but when it comes down to doing what is necessary to win – see the allies march across Europe and the Russians march to Berlin – we seem to be willing to put aside the sacrifice of our warriors and settle, as President Barack Obama said in his recent speech at West Point, to simply “end wars.”
That insures one of two things. The United States will be thrown into the dustbin of history and largely forgotten on the world stage, or our young men will be once again called on fight an enemy who is willing to do what is necessary to win. The question that day will be, will we find leadership willing to take the battle to them and follow through to a victory, not just an “end?”
The answer to that question remains to be seen. We know that the men who will actually do the fighting are up to the task, the question is whether our political leaders are up to it. On that question, we’re much less confident.