Tag Archives: WWII

‘OK … we’ll go’

What you see on the headline attached to this blog post might be the most understated and underrated military command in the history of warfare.

It came from the lips of Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme Allied Commander of the forces that launched the greatest sea invasion in history. It’s been called D-Day. And for those who have wondered what the “D” stood for … it stands for nothing at all, other than to identify the day the invasion took place.

Ike and his staff had been hamstrung by inclement weather that walloped the English Channel for days prior to the launch. They had planned to go on June 5 but delayed the invasion for 24 hours.

Then came some somewhat encouraging weather reports overnight. Gen. Eisenhower took in the reports and then gave the order: “OK … we’ll go.”

Roughly 5,000 ships took part. They carried tens of thousands of Allied troops, from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, France and a host of other nations.

Operation Overlord succeeded in securing the beachhead at Normandy, on the French coast. Was it a certainty? Hardly., Indeed, Eisenhower prepared for the worst, drafting an announcement that told the world that despite our best efforts, the landing had failed. And in making that never-delivered announcement, Ike took full responsibility for the failure.

The war in Europe would drag on for nearly one more year before Adolf Hitler’s nightmarish dream of the Third Reich came crashing down.

The men who stormed ashore that day are in the mid- to late 90s; many of them are centenarians. Most of them have passed on, leaving the world with few remaining heroes to thank for their valor, their courage and their undying loyalty to freedom.

They formed what has been called The Greatest Generation. I am a product of that generation, as my dad served honorably as a sailor, fighting the Nazis in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.

I am proud of his service, and I am grateful beyond measure for the men who saved our civilization from the tyrants.

The moment still sickens me

Time for an admission, which is that every reference to the 2016 presidential election outcome fills me with the same level of revulsion I felt when the TV networks called it for the former Moron in Chief.

Case in point: I just finished watching a nine-part Netflix documentary series on the cold war, titled, “Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War.” It is well-done, thorough and it walks us through the period from World War II to the present day. The images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki are heart-breaking and stark, to be sure.

Then it walks us to the here and now. The Soviet Union has imploded and the new president, Vladimir Putin, is filled with delusions of grandeur and longs for a return to the Stalinesque era of repression.

He invades Ukraine in February 2022 and there he is, plastered on the TV screen, along with the 45th POTUS and his buddy-buddy relationship with Putin.

Netflix felt obliged to show the candidate-to-be riding down the escalator in the office tower that bears is name with his wife to announce his run for the presidency. It also replayed the moment when the GOP nominee was declared the winner of the 2016 contest.

So help me, I cannot help but feel sickened beyond measure at the idea of replaying that scenario this coming November.

The documentary made no editorial comment on what occurred in 2016. The producers delivered it straight and for that I applaud them.

Critics of this blog accuse me of suffering from the “Derangement Syndrome” associated with the once and likely future GOP presidential nominee. I plead guilty! Yes, I suffer from it.

But … so should all Americans who give a damn about preserving democracy and scorning the dictatorial impuses of the moron who aspires to re-take control of our nuclear arsenal.

Happy birthday, USA!

I am a flag-waving patriot, for which I make no apology. Indeed, it seems odd that I even feel the need to offer that ridiculous qualifier, but I do feel compelled to say as much.

Old Glory flies over the front porch of my Princeton, Texas home. It comes down if the weather threatens to get too windy; I don’t want the wind to rip the flag off the holder my son bolted into the brick and mortar for my wife and me.

Where am I going with this? The nation celebrates its 247th birthday on Tuesday. So-called phony patriots have been in the news over the past recent years, proclaiming themselves to love our country while standing under the Stars and Bars banner, the symbol of the Confederate States of America, the organization that declared war against the government in 1861.

Enough about them.

I stand by my flag and my nation because I was taught, primarily by my father, to honor the country and to serve the country if it calls your name. Dad served his nation with honor and heroism when, on Dec. 7, 1941, we were attacked by a foreign power. He enlisted that day in the Navy and in about a month was on his way into the fight of his life — and the fight of the nation’s life.

A generation later, my country called on me to don the uniform. I joined the Army and served with far less heroism than Dad did. However, the lessons I learned as a boy carried me through a couple years of active duty, including a stint in Vietnam.

I grew weary long ago of the faux patriotism of those who literally wrap themselves in the flag of our great nation. Our pride in our country isn’t about a piece of cloth. It is about the principles on which the founders created the nation.

They founded a nation on one principle in particular, which is the freedom to dissent, to protest government policy. We do so peacefully — most of the time! I am OK with that. Hell, I have protested my government’s policy at times myself.

It doesn’t make me love my country any less. It makes me love it even more. It also enables me to wish my country a heartfelt happy birthday as it approaches one more Independence Day.

Happy birthday, America. I love you more than I can express.


Day of Infamy … and pride

As a general rule I take every opportunity available to me to salute my favorite veteran, but sadly I fell short this past Veterans Day.

Thus, I will make up for it today by saluting my favorite vet — my dad — on Pearl Harbor Day. Yes, there is a clear connection between them.

President Roosevelt asked Congress the next day after the “date which will live in infamy” to declare war on “the Empire of Japan.”

Dad didn’t wait for the president’s message. Dad, my grandparents and his six brothers and sisters were listening to the news that Sunday after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I would learn much later what happened next.

Dad walked out of the house in Portland, Ore., ventured downtown and sought — on that very day — to enlist in the Marine Corps. The USMC office was closed. So, not to be deterred, Dad walked across the hall and joined the Navy.

Yes, on that very day that the nation was stunned into disbelief over what happened to our fighting men in Hawaii, Dad decided to get into the fight.

On that day, the Greatest Generation was born and my father was among the first of the 16 million Americans who suited up for battle.

The Navy would send Dad to Europe to fight the Nazis and the Italians, who also had declared war on the United States. He fought with valor aboard ship in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, enduring incessant bombardment from enemy aircraft.

It has been written that the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor only succeeded in “awakening a sleeping giant and filling him with a terrible resolve.” No truer words could have been put down in that moment.

A tiny fraction of the 16 million Americans who joined the fight are still with us. Dad died a long time ago, but I remember and honor his service to the nation with the deepest pride that a son can have.

It’s been 81 years since, in the words of President Roosevelt, “the dastardly attack” changed the world forever. May none of us ever forget the sacrifice of those who answered the call to arms.


Pollyanna? No, an idealist

One of the harshest criticisms I have received over many decades offering commentary on issues of the day came from a colleague of mine.

He called me a “Pollyanna.” I cannot remember the specific issue that prompted the dig, but it likely had something to do with the political climate of the time and my wish for a return to a kinder time. I guess my critic/friend didn’t ascribe to the same ideals as I did then … and still do today.

I might invite the Pollyanna brickbat once again by declaring that no matter how desperate the current environment appears, I am going to rely on my faith in the U.S. Constitution … yeah, the same Constitution that Donald Trump said we should suspend.

For starters, the Constitution is far stronger and more durable than the insane rants of a disgraced politician. Moreover, we have been through many crises that rival or even exceed the current tempest brewing over efforts to reject election results, or return Trump to the White House.

We endured two world wars, and in the past 75 years two other wars — in Korea and Vietnam — that tore at our fabric. We went to war in the Middle East, prompting yet another crisis of confidence.

We have endured presidential assassinations dating back to President Lincoln’s murder in 1865, presidential scandals — one of which forced a president to resign — the Great Depression and a Civil War.

What has been the common denominator, the one political structure that survived? The U.S. Constitution. It has held the nation together, albeit while showing plenty of wear and tear around the edges.

It will continue to hold us together. No matter how hard the MAGA cultists/traitors seek to undermine it, the Constitution will endure. So will our democratic republic … and so will the electoral process that is taking its share of heavy hits from those who have declared war on our founding document.

This is not the feel-good wish of a Pollyanna. It is the assertion of an old man, a veteran who went to war for his country and a patriot who remains committed to the glorious idealism that our nation’s founders envisioned.


Eve of destruction? Hardly!

I see these social media posts and I shake my noggin.

“Joe Biden is destroying the country,” they say. Oh really? How in the world can anyone presume that we’re being “destroyed” when we have endured what we went through for the past four years prior to Biden become president?

While we’re at it, how did the country survive the turmoil of the 1960s, with the Vietnam War raging and protesters lighting fires in our cities? Or when we suffered through political assassination, starting with the murder of a president, then with the gunning down of a preacher and civil-rights champion and then the brother of the president who well could have become POTUS on his own?

Or how about during the Second World War, or the Civil War?

Yeah, we’ve been through a lot in this country. We have been on the verge of destruction many times already. We have managed to come out on the other side. Perhaps a bit tattered, battered and bruised.

Joe Biden is “destroying the country” because he wants to invest in some social programs? Please … spare me the hyperbole.


Listen to The Bulldog

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The 20th century’s greatest statesman was so wise on so many fronts, levels and issues.

His view that a nation must remember its past reminds me of something I saw while my wife and I were visiting friends in Germany in 2016.

Our friend took me to what they call in Nuremberg the “The Documentation Center.” What, you might ask, is the Documentation Center?

It is an exhibit that walks visitors through the Nuremberg war crimes trials that commenced shortly after World War II. Axis Powers officials were put on trial for their crimes against humanity. You know, The Holocaust … for example!

Our friend Martin told me straight up that Germany does not hide its past. The descendants of that terrible Nazi regime confront the ugliness of that era head on, he said. “We aren’t proud of it,” he told me. However, they put it all on full display for the world to see.

I came away from the exhibit moved and shaken at many levels by what I read and saw.

Five years later, the debate in this country centers on “critical race theory.” It speaks to the enslavement of human beings by other human beings. It poses fundamentally sound questions about the United States today remains a racist country.

These are not specious questions. They are legitimate. They deserve to be studied and discussed in our classrooms, in our dining rooms, in our living rooms.

Waiting for next ‘greatest generation’

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The nation is about to say goodbye to yet another Fourth of July holiday and it gives me pause to reflect on a conversation I had a few days ago with a North Texas gentleman who offered an observation I felt compelled in the moment to challenge.

He told me he was unsure that today’s young people would be able to storm the beaches of Normandy the way they did on June 6, 1944 when Allied forces launched the campaign to liberate Europe from the tyranny that had gripped it tightly.

I begged to differ from my friend’s view. “Oh yes they would,” I told him. I said my only hope that be that there would be no need for them to mobilize and to act the way our parents and grandparents did.

I long have saluted the Greatest Generation, the 16 million Americans who suited up for World War II. Of that total, fewer than 400,000 are still with us. My dad was one of them. So were several of my uncles and my father-in-law. They’re all gone now and I honor their heroic acts damn near daily.

I do not believe,  though, that they will be final generation of Americans to step. Indeed, the 9/11 generation is full of incidents of young men and women signing up for active military duty on the day the terrorists struck us on that horrifying day, much like my own dad did when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

The annals of heroism are full of episodes of greatness among the current generation of young Americans who are fighting for their country. They, too, are facing unique obstacles as they battle face to face with enemies of our way of life.

They are the heirs of the Greatest Generation who, I am convinced, are set to forge their own path to greatness. I am proud of them.

Ike would be angry

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

EISENHOWER STATE PARK, Texas — There are times when our retirement journey intersects with current events.

It happened when we returned to a place near the birthplace of one of this nation’s greatest statesmen, military heroes … and politicians.

Dwight David Eisenhower was born just down the road from where we parked our fifth wheel. You recall the nation’s 34th president, yes? He graduated from West Point, served in the Army where along the way he took command of Allied forces in Europe during World War II and helped defeat the 20th century’s most despotic tyrant. He retired from the Army and then decided he would run for public office: the presidency.

He won election in 1952 and re-election in 1956. President Eisenhower wasn’t a natural politician, but he declared himself to be a Republican because he believed in the party’s basic principles.

He would be infuriated today at the behavior of the party he left behind. The party has become an organization he likely wouldn’t recognize. It has become the playground of one man, Donald Trump, who in a strange found his way to the presidency in a somewhat parallel path as the great man, Dwight Eisenhower. Trump hadn’t sought public office, either, before launching his presidential bid.

The similarity ends there.

Ike did things, such as launch an interstate highway construction program that revolutionized our way of life. Trump? Well, he hurled invective at his foes, at the media and finally at the government he took an oath to protect.

Our retirement journey is meant to remove us from from the hassles and headaches of the headlines. Sometimes, though, there can be no escape … such as when we venture to a park named after one of America’s greatest Republicans.

Yep, I do like Ike.

No desire to ‘salute’ such horror

Yes, by all means look at this picture.

The message was posted on Facebook I presume by someone who opposes the takedown of Confederate memorials. The text is spot on … until we get to the last line.

Auschwitz stands as a grim reminder of humankind’s cruelty. It doesn’t glorify anything or anyone. Nor do any of the other memorials scattered throughout Europe that take note of the Holocaust and the evil that produced it.

Therefore, I still stand with those who oppose the glorification of the American Civil War and the Confederate States of America’s secession from the Union to fight to preserve slavery.

Those who fly the Confederate flag do so by and large to celebrate what the CSA did, which was to commit treason against the federal government and to bring on the bloodiest conflict in American history.

My wife and I went to Germany in 2016. We stayed with friends in Nuremberg. I had the chance to tour the Documentation Center in the city where Nazi and Japanese leaders were put on trial for crimes against humanity. Our friend in Nuremberg told us that Germans do not fly the swastika to celebrate what the Nazis did; nor do they salute picture of Adolf Hitler. They have erected or preserved these structures to remind the world — and themselves — of the horror that humanity is capable of bringing to itself.

I never will accept the notion that the Confederacy, the Civil War and the reason for fighting it should stand as proud symbol of our nation’s “heritage” and “history.” Sure, keep the statues — but place them in museums and tell the world about the evil they represent.