Among the little-known significant things that happened last month was the defeat of a 91-year-old congressman in a primary race.
His loss likely means that when he leaves office at the end of the year, he will be the last World War II veteran to ever serve in Congress.
That significance comes as this week we observe the 70th anniversary of the greatest invasion ever planned and executed — D-Day.
World War II was not without its major battles including the Battle of the Bulge, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, Midway and Iwo Jima. But D-Day’s significance was simply that it was the turning point in World War II. Had we not been able to push back the Germans only a short flight away from London, England may have succumbed to Nazi rule and the United States would have been left to fight a two-continent war for years. But the invasion was so successful that the war in Europe ended less than a year later. In less than 18 months, World War II in the Pacific Theater ended with the beginning of the atomic era.
For those who have been watching The History Channel of late, a special airing the past two weeks had added fresh perspectives to the issues confronting Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Winston Churchill. It also places some of the blame for World War II on the allies who decided Germany’s fate after World War I and perhaps overcompensated for “The Great War” by giving Germany rise to start a second war. From Pearl Harbor to Normandy to Hiroshima, World War II may have been “The Good War” but it is an oxymoron to call war a good thing.
The perspective that any World War II veteran could bring to Congress or any other elected body for that matter is that of self-sacrifice. That point is brought clearly into focus in our own community every time I go to Mount Hope Cemetery and witness the white tombstones on Legion Circle. Multiply that scene more than a thousand times to reflect what the human cost was in other cities and then add in the vast expanses of Arlington National Cemetery and the Allied Forces buried in northern France and you get an idea of not just how it made an impact on our enemies, but on us. Think of all the conversations about war that have been shared in all the VFWs and American Legions combined and you realize there is a culture that honors what generations before us have done not just for us, but for those after us.