Reflections, for Memorial Day, on my recent trip to the American — and German — military cemeteries in Normandy.
Thoughtful essay. I’ve been to both those cemeteries as well. Neither one made me feel much glory or gladness. Except, I did admire the meticulously well kept American cemetery, including the special lawn mower designed for the exact widths between gravestones - which happened to be operating nearby.
The story about Major Truscott’s speech was new to me, and powerful. Thank you, Brian. And for all that you are doing to open people’s eyes to the ever present threat of fascist incitement by humans of all colors and creeds. I note that the learning of history seems to be viewed by fascists as something like the holy water used in an exorcism... because it burns and drives away the demons. Hmmmm.
Vonnegut would approve
Wonderful piece capturing complicated emotions. Thank you.
Hi, unfortunately in both Australia and the USA it seems there is no teaching of Major General Truscott's speech, I did a unit on Modern European History which covered 1820s thru to the formation of NATO, I would of remembered Truscott,
Today both Australia and the USA along with the UK it seems we are going back down an authoritarian style of Government, where the mantra of the day is do as your told, I live in Victoria Australia, a prime minister of the conservatives many years ago decried Victoria was the Massachusetts of Australia and was barren ground for conservative politicians,
The Victorian Government has recently passed public order legislation where even small gatherings of people on a street corner with placards protesting can be deemed a nuisance and sentences of 1 years in prison are available. we the people can only hope our justices of the courts throw these cases out. I live in a forest and am a member of save the forest from Vic Forests ( a govt operated logging company) some of their logging activities recently have been shocking in the scale of destruction, not just of the forest but of the tracks leading in and out covered in small rocks for easier access for trucks but wiping out foraging areas for small birds and wildlife, Anyway as a member we were warned going into areas being logged even when no wo work was going on would be an offence, we go anyway
I used to say what happened in Germany took a certain national psyche but with the Victorian Government laws and a very recent case in NSW where a young climate protester drove during peak hour across the Sydney Harbour bridge very slowly while displaying banners on her car was sentenced to 18 months (overturned on appeal), anyway my point is the comments on various news websites were overwhelmingly that the people in Victoria charged and the young girl in NSW should have the book thrown at them.
It seems all we need for us to lose any sense of humanity is charismatic leaders with strong majorities of either left or right, it really makes no difference
Thank you Brian. After reading your article I was struck by how you described the 2 young German Nazi boys who met an early death as perpetrators and victims. What was family life like for them during that time? How quickly they were indoctrinated with Nazi propaganda? We must always remain vigilant and stand up to authoritarian far right Ideologies.
A thoughtful, moving, and depressing piece. There is no honor or glory in dying as such when it all could have been easily prevented at so many turns. But unfortunately there will always be men or women who will lead many down that fateful, authoritarian path with promises that cannot be fulfilled but through violence. And there will always be opportunities to stop such madness, if only we had the will or foresight to do so, but we never seem to quite stop it. And because we miss the opportunity, somebody else will have to step up and defend what is right through force of arms, to make the ultimate sacrifice because others were to brainwashed, lazy, or greedy to stop it from happening. I have studied military history but never once ran across Truscott’s speech. It is perfect in its respect for those under his command, for the sadness that they had to sacrifice their lives when others could have stopped the insanity, for his or any commander’s responsibility for keeping his men safe but could not and feeling that burden,and it is perfect to tell those who glorify war and violence and thump their chests (watch Sam Elliot as Gen John Buford in Gettysburg to get the full effect of what I mean) to simply “fuck off” knowing they know nothing of what it is really like. And as we think about this, be grateful for those men and women in Ukraine who are taking that stand for us and give them everything they need to end Putin’s imperial ambitions and bullying once and for all while sending a message to wannabe dictators and international bullies. “No more.” We owe them and all previous generations who stood up for what his right deep respect, humility, and thanks for all we enjoy today. And an apology for failing to do more ourselves
Very moving. Thank you.
Really gorgeous, thank you Brian. Hits me right in the feels.
I fear we as a global society contend with a similar nihilism today as the Nazis rode a few generations ago. The authoritarian jerks are banding together and seem to want to force their issues, in reaction to the perceived excesses of the western liberality. And with their sophisticated understanding of propaganda, like the pre-emptive narrative inversions of “Ukrainian Nazis,” they are quite effective at obscuring the truth to interested parties. They may yet be successful in their attempted take down of the supremacy of Western liberality and the current world order.