Unfortunately, many of those activists don't appreciate what it took to secure their freedom to protest. They should have traveled to the Mall last weekend to extend their appreciation to those veterans of World War II who stopped tyranny in its tracks.
If they missed that glorious celebration, they should tune in this weekend to watch President Bush pay tribute to those American and Allied troops who stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on the morning of June 6, 1944. They were a heroic group, braving stormy weather and rough seas to make it to Normandy. One of them was Jerry Markham, a member of an elite Navy combat demolition unit, later known as the Navy SEALs. When I interviewed him for a recent episode of "War Stories," he told me, "When we landed, it was just a shower of machine-gun fire."
Indeed it was. D-Day, the Allied invasion of France, was the biggest military operation in history. Eventually 2 million brave Allied servicemen would cross those beaches after slogging through neck-deep water, carrying over 100 pounds of gear. The cold, gray water of the English Channel ran red with the blood of those who were killed or wounded before even hitting the beach.
President Bush will commemorate their sacrifice this weekend. But for the first time, the German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, will attend the ceremony. Schroeder, who was invited by French President Jacques Chirac, said that "this day is about much more than victory or defeat. It has become a symbol of the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights." Schroeder explained that "it is only right that we Germans take part," while ignoring Germany's failure to take part in a present-day struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights.
Perhaps Schroeder wants to address the impressions of his countrymen like Franz Gockel, who was in the German infantry during the Normandy invasion. Gockel lamented to the London Telegraph this week that "D-Day is remembered almost exclusively from the Allied point of view."
"We Germans," Gockel continued, "have been depicted merely as the occupiers of France . . . (but) during D-Day, there were many French who were angry about the destruction of their towns and cities by American bombers."
Those French beaches are sacred. They are overlooked by the souls of nearly 10,000 Americans killed by German forces during the invasion of Normandy who now lie in the Normandy American Cemetery in the hills above. Schroeder would do well not to rewrite history and desecrate the sacrifice of American heroes. American liberals do enough of that on our National Mall in Washington. We don't need it in Normandy too.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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