D-Day 77th Anniversary Column (Newsmax Magazine)
June 6, 2021
June 6 marks the 77th anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy. Also known as D-Day, troops from a dozen countries, including more than 150,000 American, Canadian and British forces, landed along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France. They fought bravely and with a sense of unyielding determination to triumph over fascism. The level of selflessness that influenced the men and women of those fateful days was born by the Great Depression and hardened in a battle against evil itself. It’s also a lesson many younger Americans appear to have forgotten today.
Last year, during the height of the pandemic, Deseret News columnist Jay Evensen had a similar observation and wisely urged his readers to approach the pending holiday season with a sense of responsibility and caution. “This generation of Americans has trouble with the concept of sacrifice.” Evensen worried that along with the passing of so many members of the Greatest Generation, so too was lost the spirit of selflessness. “We could use their wisdom right now, as well as their memories of ration books, chocolate shortages and having to drive on bald tires because rubber was needed for the war effort.”
The toll the coronavirus has taken on America’s elderly population over the last eighteen months has been striking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those 85 years of age or older have been 95 times more likely to be hospitalized when contracting COVID-19 than those aged 5-17. They have also been 8,700 times more likely to die from the disease than this younger demographic as well.
The extent to which wartime and generational comparisons are relevant to our understanding of the ongoing pandemic is, similar the trajectory of the disease itself, rapidly evolving. Our current circumstances, though different from the war in many crucial respects, also calls for the similar set of purpose, measures and sacrifice that was embodied by our Greatest Generation. Further, we are once again desperately in need of boosted innovation and production, the redeployment of resources, and increased governmental oversight and stimulus. The current battle against a virus has forced even the most technologically advanced and progressive nations to once again adopt war strides.
To be sure, lives have been saved and the progress we are making with vaccine research and distribution is a success story that will likely be passed down through future generations. However, our continued success will not be possible without the will of our people. And while the health threat of the virus falls inordinately on older generations, it is the young in society that must answer this call to arms. They have been drafted into the army of the willing. Instead of taking up rifles, they offer arms for a vaccine. Instead of donning fatigues, they grab masks. Each and every one of us has a role to play. Responsibilities to adhere to. Sacrifices to make.
The future trajectory of the current pandemic is one that none of us know for certain. What we do know, unequivocally, is that we are in this fight together. Just like those brave soldiers and sailors 77 years ago this month. That band of brothers stood strong and together they helped to secure a world that was freer, safer and more prosperous for those who came after. We owe them much the same today.