Friday, June 7, 2013

Sadly, the WWII generation only bought us time..

As I am normally inclined to do every June 6th, last night I went out into my game room and watched Saving Private Ryan by myself.  I do this as an annual reminder of an event that is very important to me personally and to our nation.
The Youtube video below is an interview of my wife's uncle - and in my heart, my uncle as well.  His name is Bill Coleman and sadly, he died last December.
Bill Coleman was part of the United States Airborne that dropped into France the night before the D-Day invasion. 
Not long after this teenager from Florida landed he was taken prisoner by the Germans and spent the rest of the war as a POW before he managed to escape.  Later, he worked in innumerable business ventures, was a member of the Florida legislature, consulted with Tom Hanks on the Band of Brothers series and even parachuted into Normandy again - when he was 80 years old - where he received the highest medal given by the French government.
While he was alive, I spent as much time as I could with him, asking question after question about his experiences, his life after the war, his view of politics, the future of America and more.
Last night, two things dawned on me.  First, I miss Bill Coleman more than he can know.  Second, he and the other men who fought during World War II gave up so much - including 405.000 who were killed - only to buy our nation time before the clock winds down on us for good.
What I mean by that is very simple.
June 6, 1944 took place 160 years after the signing of The Declaration of Independence.  When the signers of this sacred philosophical contract were done, they probably knew that there would be an expiration date on it.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "The inevitable progression of things is for government to gain ground and for liberty to yield." 
The inevitable progression....inevitable...
What a prophetic word.  Jefferson and the others were brilliant students of history.  They knew that no major power had ever survived.  From Egypt to Rome to Great Britain, all had died under the weight of more and more government corruption, power, waste and hubris.  None even managed to survive as significant players in world history.  All of these empires became poor and largely ignored as the world was reshaped over and over again.
When Bill Coleman dropped into France, he was fighting for his life, the life of other members of the Airborne and the life of our nation.  He could not know that by 2013, 69 years later, that the nation he fought for would have devolved into the same character-less shell that other nations had become.
In my talks will Mr. Coleman, he expressed grave concern over where our nation was heading.  He spoke often of the growing apathy for liberty, the entitlement mentality, the lack of honor in our "leaders" and more.  You could sense the sadness he felt was very real and I often wondered if he ever felt like his efforts and the lives that were lost were worth it.
I am sure he would say it was.  After all, our nation could have died 69 years ago under the tyranny of Germany and Japan.
I am so thankful that his generation of Americans managed to buy us precious time as we inevitably slouch towards the same fate as Rome. 
Historians will someday record that our nation managed to maintain a system of relative liberty longer than any in history.  How many years that system will last is not certain.  My great-grandchildren will more likely see the end than I will. 
Until then, I think all of us who believe in liberty need to keep doing our small little part to preserve it even as we today read about our government mining our phone, email and Internet activity for the past seven years.  We need to be mindful that governments have always been - and always will be - corrupt and filled with dishonest people who value power over freedom.
All we can do is fight the good fight so that our posterity will look back and know that we fought for them too.

1 comment:

  1. That’s an amazing bit of history. The WWII vets I talked to were always reluctant to talk much about the details. What they went through makes me wonder why they all didn’t have PTSD. It was brutal but they were all proud to have taken part in liberating Europe.
    I always wonder how WWII lasted less than 4 years with the US being involved only a year in Europe from D-Day to Germany’s surrender. We are approaching 12 years in Afghanistan.
    Thanks for posting.