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 that, "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 on June 6, 1944 and successfully breached Hitler’s "Atlantic Wall" have been justifiably honored for their participation in the momentous event. On the fortieth 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 now fighting — 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, D.C.
Last month, Congressman Jim McDermott, the Seattle Democrat, described those now serving in our Armed Forces as "mercenaries" and claimed that "we’re buying them now." Apparently, taking a page from Senator John Kerry’s 2004 "Presidential Campaign Playbook," Mr. McDermott believes the young Americans winning this generation’s war are those who could not get jobs or get into school. Mr. McDermott, you may recall, was once willing to negotiate — without pre-conditions — with Saddam Hussein. He is now co-sponsoring legislation to require compulsory military conscription.
Senator 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 Senator John McCain, Mr. Harkin observed that, "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 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."
Mr. 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, Ms. Pelosi declared that while "some" progress is being made, it is because of "the goodwill of the Iranians — they decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities — the Iranians." Hopefully 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 educated, trained, led and 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 has ever seen.
Even the editors of the liberal Washington Post have finally 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 took to task those who comprise "the ‘this-war-is-lost’ caucus." And this week, the foreign minister of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates visited the Iraqi capital for discussions on re-opening their embassy in Baghdad.
The victories over Al Qaeda and the Shiite Militias in Iraq, against the Taliban and Usama’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 sixty-four years ago were American heroes. So are those who serve today.
Oliver North hosts War Stories on FOX News Channel and is the author of the new best-seller, "American Heroes: In The War Against Radical Islam."
Col. Oliver L. North (ret.) serves as host of the Fox News Channel documentary series "War Stories with Oliver North." From 1983 to 1986, he served as the U.S. government's counterterrorism coordinator on the National Security Council staff. North is the founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization providing college scholarships to the children of military personnel killed in the line of duty and author of the new nationwide bestseller, "Counterfeit Lies," a novel about how Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. Click here for more information on Oliver North.