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No surprise in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, the thug-in-chief, has won "reelection" through violence. This while his government has created a massive humanitarian crisis through corruption and mismanagement. The Telegraph has this and many other stories.

Africa is full of former colonies who gained independence only to be subjected to home-grown tyranny. Many times by a man elected to office who then rigs the system so as to stay in power while enriching himself and cronies.

Thank God our first president under our present Constitution was George Washington. He wielded power only when he thought it his duty, then put it down at the first honorable opportunity to go back to Mt. Vernon. During his time in office he behaved honorably with honesty. Traits he had shown earlier while leading the Continental Army during the Revolution.

In one of my fantasies, on Judgement Day the Lord Jesus sends all U.S. presidents over to their own area, telling them to fall in line by order of office, all except George Washington. Washington's job, walk down the line in silence, looking into the eyes of each president. Those who can honestly meet his gaze go to their reward in heaven, those who cannot, well they go to theirs.
In "a gripe about Google," Tocqueville points out that the most-used search engine on the web elected to ignore the significance of June 6th, "one of the most pivotal days in the history of the modern world, the day where thousands of America’s finest young men fought and died on the beaches of Normandy to help push back the forces of fascism and tyranny." Instead, Google reconfigured their logo to celebrate the 509th anniversary of the birth of a noteworthy but fairly obscure (to most of us) seventeenth-century portrait artist of the Spanish court.

My sense is that Google merely reflected a general reluctance yesterday among America's cultural gatekeepers to make too much of this 64th anniversary of the "Longest Day."


--Sixty-four is a fairly mundane number--nothing sexy or golden about a 64th anniversary.

--Perhaps no one cares anymore about something that happened so long ago. An increasingly small percentage of Americans were alive on that day in June in 1944, even fewer have a contemporaneous recollection of the event, and the surviving participants of Operation Overlord are down to a minuscule remnant. Literally, one might ask, who cares?

--Perhaps many well-meaning persons of cultural authority also worried that a reminder of this event might glorify war, hail American sacrifice, and highlight our positive role in modern geo-political history. Perhaps noting past military victories while American troops are in the field doing battle as we speak might appear too political and/or triumphal. Perhaps trumpeting warriors and a "good war" during a presidential election year in which the outcome of the political contest might turn on the collective assessment of our current war struck some as inappropriate.

Hard to know.

Nevertheless, here is a brief and personal (albeit somewhat indirect) recollection concerning Normandy and the "boys" who showed so brave sixty-four years ago.

For three weeks during the late spring of 1996, I traveled through France and Ireland. Making the trip by myself, I felt free to wander wherever the spirit led me. Consequently, without much conscious forethought, I found myself at the Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie in Bayeux on June 8 (the 52nd anniversary of D-Day plus two), where I ran into a contingent of British veterans of the Normandy invasion. Having served in the 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, these troopers (then in their late-sixties and seventies) were excited to find a young man who seemed so interested in their great adventure so long ago. Even better, I was an American who would cordially laugh with them as they good-naturedly scoffed at the idea that Eisenhower (merely a "political general"), Patton ("all talk of blood and guts but no real grit"), or any other U.S. commander could have accomplished much without "Monty" to tell them what to do and lead the way.

Their devotion to "Monty" and his fame reminded me of a Winston Churchill story (as told by the late Sir Robert Rhodes James during one of his visits to Baylor University during the mid-1990s). According to the tale, toward the end of the war Churchill was briefing King George VI during one of their regular meetings, when the King noticed that the Prime Minister was distracted and agitated. Prompted by the King's query, Churchill explained that although the progress of the war was thoroughly agreeable, things on the domestic front were less happy. After ticking off a number of political and economic problems he faced, Churchill sighed with exasperation: "And I think Monty wants my job." To which, the King purportedly rejoined, "that is quite a relief, Winston, all this time I assumed he wanted mine."

God Save the King and God Bless Monty, Winnie, and all the boys of the 21st Army Group.

God Bless Ike and Patton and the all the boys of Pointe du Hoc and all the other places along the beaches of Normandy.