So, I’ve made my usual visual rounds of military-related movies and tailor-made television shows for Veterans Day, and lessons I’ve taken from them still resonate with me.
Looking at the various programs detailing the invasion of Europe, Operation Overlord, individual initiative, leadership and teamwork were the order of the day.
Gen. Norman Cota displayed personal initiative as he led his men up a draw past in the face of fire from several German machine gun nests to help secure the beach, and several destroyer captains ordered their ships close enough to shore to risk scraping their hulls on the bottom in order to provide covering fire to help Allied troops secure the beachhead.
The advantage Americans held over our adversaries in World War II was flexibility, not the rigid attention to orders that the Japanese and in many cases the German high command held over their troops.
It’s been documented by the late historian, Stephen Ambrose, and others that those qualities of individual initiative and teamwork reflected American society, and that’s a big reason we helped win World War II.
Our national work ethic and overwhelming advantages in men and material came to the forefront, along with uncommon bravery from common men, from factory workers, to tenant farmers, to executives, to business owners, all of whom came together to achieve a common goal.
I find it ironic that Veterans Day falls so close to November elections, particularly this election season with its divisiveness, name-calling and finger pointing.
It seemed we weren’t voting for a candidate as much as we were voting against the other one.
Politicians are not only calling out opponents, but some of them are advocating getting in their faces, interrupting family time at public places such as restaurants.
That’s begging for a nasty confrontation, and at a time where we’ve had two national tragedies within the past two weeks, in Pittsburgh and in Thousand Oaks.
The usual folks are saying the usual things to the usual deaf ears and speaking to their respective choirs regarding civility in our political system, and I think it’s time to tune out all of the noise.
No matter what our political stripes may be, crude Saturday Night Live humor making fun of a veteran who lost his eye in service to his country does not solve the situation, but it does seem par for the course among many of our “entertainers.”
That’s a sad commentary on the direction of our country, and it’s up to all of us to remember the definition of “civilization,” lest the wheels come off entirely.