WASHINGTON -- Sixty-four years ago this week, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came on the radio and implored Americans to "devote themselves in a continuance of prayer invoking thy help to our efforts." The "effort" of which he spoke was Operation Overlord, the D-Day landing of 150,000 American and Allied troops at Normandy. The risks were so great that Winston Churchill told the people of Britain: "The invasion has been launched. The result is with God." FDR described it as "a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity."
Since then, those who fought their way ashore June 6, 1944, and successfully breached Hitler's Atlantic Wall have been honored justifiably for their participation in the momentous event. On the 40th anniversary of the operation, Ronald Reagan stood on that "lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France" and spoke of that "giant undertaking unparalleled in human history" and praised "the boys of Pointe du Hoc the heroes who helped end a war."
But that was then; and this is now. This year, the anniversary of their achievement received little notice in the so-called mainstream media. Perhaps that's because it would draw uncomfortable parallels between those who stormed the coast of France in 1944 and those who are fighting now -- and winning -- a war against radical Islam. Unlike those who braved their way into Hitler's Fortress Europe, the young Americans fighting today's battles reap few accolades from the potentates of the press or the liberal "leadership" in Washington.
Last month, Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., described those now serving in our armed forces as "mercenaries" and claimed "we're buying them now." Apparently taking a page from Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign playbook, McDermott believes the young Americans winning this generation's war are those who could not get jobs or get into school. McDermott, you may recall, once was willing to negotiate -- without preconditions -- with Saddam Hussein. Now he is co-sponsoring legislation to require compulsory military conscription.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who has asserted false claims of flying combat missions in Vietnam, routinely denigrates many of those serving in today's all-volunteer military. Two weeks ago, in attacking Sen. John McCain, Harkin observed, "It's one thing to have been drafted and served but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that's just how you're steeped, how you've learned, how you've grown up."
All of this amplifies a steady -- and unfortunately unanswered -- chorus from the far left that the U.S. military has been sent on "Mission: Impossible" by the Bush administration. It's a refrain that began when House Majority Whip James Clyburn confessed last year that if the surge turned out to be a success, it would be "a real big problem for us." By December, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had entered the echo chamber and began asserting -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- "the surge hasn't accomplished its goals."
Reid's unwillingness to acknowledge the success of our troops is amplified by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Pelosi declared that while some progress is being made, it is because of "the good will of the Iranians. They decided in Basra when the fighting would end. They negotiated that cessation of hostilities -- the Iranians." Let's hope she had someone on her staff send the theocrats in Tehran a box of chocolates and a thank you note.
Those who persist in spreading a diatribe of disaster -- and who insist on denigrating the brightest, best-trained, best-led and best-equipped military force in the world -- have succeeded in building a significant following. The facts on the ground, however, simply don't support their thesis. In Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and the Philippines, the war against radical Islamic terror is being won by the finest military force the world ever has seen.
Even the editors of the liberal Washington Post finally have conceded this reality. A recent editorial baldly warned about Iraq: "Don't look now, but the U.S.-backed government and army may be winning the war." And it took to task those who comprise "the 'this-war-is-lost' caucus." Also, this week the foreign minister of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates visited the Iraqi capital for discussions on reopening their embassy in Baghdad.
The victories over al-Qaida and the Shiite militias in Iraq, against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's remnant in Afghanistan, and over Muslim terrorists in Somalia and the Philippines have been won by U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines -- and the new allies they have advised and trained in these countries. Those who landed on the beaches of Normandy 64 years ago were American heroes. So are those who serve today.