Tag Archives: D-Day

Two Trumps made the trip to Europe

Well, the world got a good look this week at two men who serve in one body as the president of the United States.

What the world cannot shake, though, is the appearance of the “real Donald Trump,” who spoke over the other Donald Trump posing as president.

I will acknowledge the obvious. The “fake” Trump did a good job of articulating our immense national pride over the heroism displayed 75 years ago this week on the Normandy coastline in France. American, British and Canadian men stormed ashore to take back a continent living under the tyranny of the Nazi conquerors.

The Trump who posed as president spoke eloquently about the heroism of that operation and the victory those men achieved.

Yeah, I have heard the criticism of those who said that Trump merely was reading someone else’s words, that he doesn’t actually believe them. I’ll just say that he isn’t the first president who has read a speech penned by speechwriters, nor will he be the final president. Ronald Reagan’s marvelous “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech in 1984 was the work largely of Peggy Noonan, although Noonan seeks to give President Reagan much credit for adding his own rhetoric to that address.

However, juxtaposed with the Trump posing as president was the “real Donald Trump,” the man who sat before those thousands of graves marking the final resting place for fallen American heroes.

That version of Trump took the occasion to blast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “disaster,” as a “nasty” politician and someone who cannot be trusted. He then blasted the daylights out of a former Vietnam War combat Marine, former special counsel Robert Mueller, as a “fool.”

If he had any semblance of understanding of the solemnity of the moment, of the place and of the event they were commemorating, that version of Donald Trump would have declined to answer the highly charged political question fired at him by the Fox News commentator.

But … he lacks all of that.

And that version of Donald Trump is the one that millions of Americans are talking about today.

Sad.

Here is what POTUS could have said

I am among the last people on Earth who Donald Trump would ask for advice, but I’ll offer a bit of unsolicited advice anyway.

Trump sat this week in front of rows of graves at Normandy, the site of the epic World War II invasion and battle that sealed the doom of the Third Reich. Fox News interviewer Laura Ingraham asked him some questions about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Ingraham was looking to push Trump’s hot button. He took the bait. He swallowed it whole and proceeded to dishonor the men buried behind him by offering a blistering partisan critique of Mueller and Pelosi. He said Mueller “made a fool of himself,” and called Pelosi a “disaster.”

Had the president asked me how to handle such a loaded set of questions, I would have counseled he say the following:

That’s a good question, Laura. However, I am not going to answer it now. Not here. Not in the presence of the men buried behind me.

I came to Normandy to honor the heroism of our brave fighting men and their comrades from Great Britain, Canada, France and many other nations involved in that great war.

I am going to speak very soon at a ceremony attended by some of the men who survived that horrible conflict on the beaches here. I don’t want to sully that event with a partisan commentary on matters back at home. 

It’s been said that “politics ends at the water’s edge.” A great Republican senator, Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, offered that bit of wisdom. I intend to follow it here.

Now, if you want to ask me about the commemoration we are offering here, I’ll be glad to answer that.

Politics? Let’s wait until we get home. OK?

The president didn’t say that. If only he could understand the solemnity of the moment and appreciate the sacrifice of the men who died in defense of our way of life.

POTUS manages to trample on his own high moment

Donald J. Trump is not without some political skill.

He did, after all, manage to win a presidential election when every pundit in America was predicting his defeat in 2016.

The president also is quite good on a more dubious level. When given a chance to shine, to speak with high-minded rhetoric on behalf of the nation — he manages to trample all over his own moment of statesmanship.

Trump went to France this week to honor the memory of those who died during the D-Day invasion of Europe on June 6,1944, 75 years ago. He delivered a glorious speech to the crowd at Normandy. He said the young men who stormed the beach to liberate a continent were the greatest people “who will ever live.”

But only moments before delivering those remarks, Trump managed to tape an interview with the Fox News Channel. There he was, sitting before a cemetery filled with the headstones of fallen Allied warriors.

That backdrop was the perfect antithesis to what came out of his mouth. Donald Trump managed to call former special counsel Robert Mueller — a former Marine who was wounded in combat during the Vietnam War, who received the Bronze Star for valor in combat — a “fool.” He said Mueller “made a fool of himself” with his report detailing the conclusions he reached regarding the 22-month investigation into alleged collusion with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

While speaking to Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, Trump also managed to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster.”

My point is this: Presidents don’t normally resort to that kind of partisan bickering while in the midst of representing our nation on the worldwide stage. They damn sure don’t do such things while commemorating monumentally historic events such as the D-Day invasion, an event that many historians describe as the decisive battle of World War II.

Presidents are supposed to recognize the solemnity of these events and behave accordingly.

Donald Trump doesn’t play by those rules. He doesn’t play by any of the normal conventions associated with his high and exalted office.

His base adores him for the crassness he exhibits.

It sickens the rest of us.

Adding ‘the beach’ to my bucket list

I don’t have a lengthy “bucket list” of things I want to do before I check out. I’ve lived a good and productive and eventful life full of rare experiences.

I have traveled three times to Greece, my ancestral homeland; I have been able to walk on the soil in Vietnam where I served during a long-ago war; I have spent more than a month in Israel, visiting holy sites and learning how people live so close to their mortal enemies just across borders in almost any direction.

And of course my family has filled me with great joy and pride.

But this week, watching the events commemorating the 75th year since the D-Day invasion of Europe, I have added a destination to my bucket list. I want to walk along “the beach.” I want to see where young men fought and died to save the world from tyranny.

Let me be clear: I do not have a direct familial connection to D-Day. My father was a World War II veteran, as was one of my uncles. Dad saw his combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations; he took part in landings at Oran, Morocco and later in Sicily and then at Salerno on the Italian mainland.

Dad faced continual bombardment from German and Italian aircraft. While manning a 50-caliber deck gun, Dad was credited with shooting down a JU-88 Luftwaffe bomber, but then had his ship sunk when an Italian torpedo bomber found its mark off the Sicilian coast.

So, no one in my family met death on the French coast on June 6, 1944. Oh, how I want to see that place nonetheless.

The ceremonies we have seen over the past few days as U.S. and French presidents have heaped praise on the men who fought to save the world. Donald Trump called these warriors the “greatest men who will ever live.” Emmanuel Macron turned to the men seated behind and said, “On behalf of my country … thank you.”

American, British and Canadian soldiers stormed ashore on five beachheads: Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno. Their names are etched in world history as the places that changed the course of what we all hope is the last great world war.

I want to see those beaches. So help me, before I kick the bucket, I’m going to make it happen.

D-Day veterans earned the world’s eternal gratitude

They’re old men who once — in the prime of their youth — stormed out of boats into too-deep water and onto a beach. They were greeted with merciless fire from an enemy force determined to keep what it had captured.

The young men fought their way across the beach. Their triumph was far from secured when they were able to maintain their hold on the small strip of land they had just touched.

They kept fighting. And fighting some more. They hailed from nations around the world. They were Americans, Brits, Canadians, French, Poles, Dutch, Danes, Greeks, Australians and New Zealanders.

Seventy-five years ago they sought to open a new front in the war in Europe. They landed in Normandy, France on a mission labeled Operation Overlord, aka D-Day.

These old men now are among a diminishing group of heroes who fought to save the world from Nazi tyranny. They would succeed eventually. The Third Reich that was supposed to last a thousand years crumbled under the might of the forces that fought their way into Germany from that beach in Normandy and from the east, where the Soviet Red Army was exacting its own brutal vengeance against the Nazis.

Today we honor the young men who answered their nations’ call. Dignitaries will offer high-minded salutes to those young men. A few of those young men will be there among the dignitaries. They have aged. They’re now well into their 90s, meaning that most of those who are still with us today likely won’t be around for the next landmark commemoration of the D-Day landing.

One day all those young men will no longer be among us. I have sought in recent years to shake the hand of World War II veterans when I see them wearing those ballcaps identifying them as members of the Greatest Generation. I want to thank them for saving the world from the monsters who sought to subject us all to their oppression.

But here’s the deal: Those veterans who saved the world from the tyrants quite often don’t advertise their heroism. They fought hard, earned the victory and then returned home to resume their lives. Their heroics? “We just did our duty,” they might say.

D-Day was a seminal event in world history. Those who are the products of those men need to understand fully what they did when they stormed ashore in the beach in France. Indeed, all of us who came into this world after that worldwide war should honor their forebears’ effort to save the world.

That’s what I want to do at this moment . . . and always.

Trump tweets insult to singer/actress during state visit? Wow!

I decided long ago that I wouldn’t lament Donald Trump’s use of Twitter as a policy bullhorn. I get that it works for the president, even though his tweets are so remarkably inarticulate, clumsy and, um, full of lies.

However, I cannot let pass a recent message he fired off while he is visiting the United Kingdom on a state visit at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

At a time when the president should be exhibiting solemn respect for the office he holds and paving the way to pay his respects to the valiant warriors who fell in battle 75 years ago while trying to liberate Europe from the Nazi tyrant, he does something truly astonishing.

Donald Trump decides to engage in a Twitter battle with Bette Midler, the noted singer and actress.

Midler dislikes the president. She said so yet again. So what does the target of her barbs do? He decides to fire off a tweet in response to Midler, calling her a “washed up psycho,” or words to that effect.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, Mr. President!

Donald Trump is managing to make the presidency a worldwide laughingstock at a time when he should be conducting himself with maximum decorum and dignity.

A tweet tirade with Bette Midler isn’t the way to do that.

Weird.

Such clumsiness at this state visit … oh, my

Queen Elizabeth II invited Donald and Melania Trump for a state visit to the United Kingdom, where the president and first lady are going to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on Normandy Beach in France, just across the English Channel.

But … it happens that four of the president’s five children also showed up, too. They all had seats at the state dinner. They’ve been photographed sightseeing and, oh, just being seen.

We have Don Jr., Eric and his wife, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner and Tiffany all on board. Barron, the first couple’s teenaged son, isn’t there, I suppose.

Some folks are wondering how the adult Trumps were allowed to attend a visit that reportedly included an invitation only to Dad and his wife.

Of particular interest is the presence of Don Jr., Eric and Tiffany, none of whom have positions within the administration; Ivanka and Jared, of course, are “senior advisers” to the president.

Still, the invitation reportedly only was sent to the first couple.

What are those younger Trumps doing there?

‘OK … we’ll go’

U.S. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had to make the most difficult of decisions on this day 75 years ago.

Does the supreme Allied commander of all forces in Europe send men into a storm, or does he wait for the sky to clear enough for these men to save the world from the tyranny that had conquered much of Europe?

The weather over the English Channel had forced one postponement of the launch of an invasion. The general waited and waited. Then Ike told his high command, “OK, we’ll go.”

On the morning of June 6, 1944, thousands of men from the United States, Great Britain and Canada climbed into landing craft and proceeded to launch an invasion that many historians believe turned the tide toward victory in Europe. Ships from many nations bombarded the shoreline. Warplanes dropped thousands of bombs and strafed the enemy. Paratroopers flew during the night and dropped behind enemy lines to begin the attack.

The main invasion force landed on five beachheads on the coast of France. Normandy became the bloody battleground where those men fought their hearts out to liberate a continent.

Dignitaries from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada — and many other Allied nations that played a role in that liberation — will gather at Normandy to pay tribute to the men who answered humanity’s call. The president of the United States Donald Trump will be there, along with British Prime Minister Teresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

They will no doubt be joined by a few of the dwindling number of men who are still among us. They are old men now. The next landmark commemoration, in five years, when we mark the 80th year since the D-Day landing, well could occur without any of those brave warriors. They are well into their 90s now and, of course, time is not their friend.

It’s been reported many times that Gen. Eisenhower wrote two statements prior to sending those men into battle. One of the statements referred to a failed mission. Ike was prepared to take full responsibility for that failure.

He didn’t have to read that statement to the anxious world. The mission, which was fraught with error and misjudgment, nevertheless succeeded. The men secured the beachhead, caught their breath, gathered up their equipment and then began the march across Europe.

So, we will honor those men’s untold bravery. We must always honor them for the valor and the righteousness of the cause for which they fought — and died.

The ‘best’ are great, the worst are, well, something else

Donald Trump has shown an ability to hire a wide-ranging array of key administration officials. They run from the brightest of lights to the dimmest of bulbs.

I consider Defense Secretary James Mattis to be among the stars of the Trump administration. He’s a retired four-star Marine Corps general; tested in combat. He’s dedicated to the defense of this country. Thoughtful, learned and a totally competent strategic thinker.

I hope he stays for the duration of the Trump administration, although Mattis’s tenure is beginning to show signs of wobbliness.

Then there’s the president’s latest selection to be our ambassador to the United Nations.

I am having difficulty wrapping my noggin around this one. Heather Nauert is nominated to be our nation’s top envoy on the world stage. Her credentials? None. She has nothing to offer.

Except for this: She once was a “news” personality on the Fox News News Channel, the president’s network of choice. She did a co-hosting gig on “Fox & Friends.” She dressed up in goofy costumes and acted totally, well, the way morning “news” talk show co-hosts often act.

Then she got a job as spokeswoman for the State Department. You might be recall how she sought to praise U.S.-Germany relations by citing, for instance, the upcoming D-Day commemoration. D’oh! Wait a second!

Our guys fought the Germans to the death on the beaches at Normandy, France. We were at war.

This is the kind of “experience” the president sought when he named this person to be our advocate on at the United Nations.

Weird, man.

74 years later, D-Day still stands alone

The Greatest Generation generally is defined as millions of American men and women who stood firm against tyranny during an intense, bloody and desperate global conflict.

Meaning no disrespect to those Americans who answered the call for freedom, let me suggest that the Greatest Generation comprised men and women from around the globe.

Seventy-four years ago today, American soldiers — along with Canadian and British comrades in arms — splashed ashore at Normandy, France. They had just completed a harrowing journey across the English Channel to pierce Adolf Hitler’s Fortress Europa.

These brave men endured unspeakable horror. They faced a determined enemy intent on keeping the land they had conquered four years earlier.

The D-Day invasion today stands as the greatest amphibious assault in the history of warfare. Five thousand ships supported the attack. Hundreds of airplanes flew sorties over the Nazi defenses.

What often gets short shrift, though, is the composition of the entire attack force. It was made up of French fighters and Poles. They formed gallant military units after their own countries fell to the Nazi juggernaut. Other nations took part: Denmark, Greece, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand all participated in this mammoth endeavor.

What’s more, French, Dutch, Belgian and Norwegian resistance fighters never stopped battling the occupiers in the years preceding the launching of Operation Overlord.

It was an international event of the first order.

And I cannot dismiss the bloody fight that was occurring along the Eastern Front as the Red Army marched from the Soviet Union, into Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany as it sought to rid the world of the tyrant Hitler and his minions.

One final note I want to make: Supreme Allied Commander U.S. Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was prepared for the worst on D-Day. He drafted an announcement that he never had to make. He would take full responsibility for the failure of the invasion had the international force been unable to secure the beachhead at Normandy.

That, dear reader, is true leadership.

The Greatest Generation, comprising fighters from many nations, ensured success in the weeks and months that followed the titanic assault against the forces of evil.

We owe all of them an eternal debt of thanks.