“For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.”
On this day sixty-eight years ago, young Americans were fighting and dying on the shores of Normandy France. The soldiers made their way onto the beach that June 6th in Higgins boats, unique high-walled boats that carried 25 men, sort of a “floating boxcar.”
Conservative author Peggy Noonan wrote about D-Day, and about the Higgins boats in the introduction of her book “Patriotic Grace: What it is and why we need it now.” Noonan tells of one soldier, his fate intricately woven with the fate of the other men in his Higgins Boat, heading in high seas to a conclusion unknown… “it took [his] five little boats four hours to cover the nine miles to the beach:”
They were the worst hours of our lives. It was pitch black, cold, and the rain was coming down in sheets, drenching us. The boats were being tossed in the waves, making all of us violently sick.
Noonan reflects in the remainder of Patriotic Grace on the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in as a people today, and of the rise of the partisan hate-filled din. Says Noonan “we fight as if we’ll never need each other,” yet our very fate may depend on one another.
And so I came to think this: What we need most right now, at this moment, is a kind of patriotic grace-a grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment we’re in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative. That admits affection and respect. That encourages them. That acknowledges that the small things that divide us are not worthy of the moment; that agrees that the things that can be done to ease the stresses we feel as a nation should be encouraged, while those that encourage our cohesion as a nation should be supported. I’ve come to think that this really is our Normandy Beach… the little, key area in which we have to prevail if the whole enterprise is to succeed. The challenge we must rise to… We are an armada. All sorts of Americans, wonderful people, all ages, faiths and colors, with different skills, fabulous skills, from a million different places, but all here with you, going forward.
Like it or not, we are in each others’ Higgins boats. Our fate, almost certainly shared.
Given that circumstance, perhaps we might use today to consider how we will best keep faith with those young Americans who left their lives that day on Omaha Beach. It’s well-timed after yesterday’s angry Wisconsin smackdown. Today is a day to think bigger, move on.
Photo credit: Chuck Holon
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Florence Snyder: Happy Father’s Day to all the honorary recipients of the Joseph Snyder Professorship in Generosity
This is my sixth Father’s Day without my father. I can’t say that I miss the heart-to-heart talks because we didn’t have very many. Like most men of what Tom Brokaw christened “the greatest generation,” Daddy wasn’t an emo guy.
When I was away at school, my mother and grandmother and even my big brother would send me cards and letters filled with neighborhood gossip and newspaper clippings and “I can’t wait ‘til you’re home’
Daddy did not write letters. Instead, he’d cook up excuses for unannounced visits and it annoyed me no end to be “checked up on.” Read all »
“Giant incredible rocket ships have a way of rendering politics meaningless, just as close proximity to scientific glory is a really good cure for cynicism, world weariness or being jaded about what human beings can accomplish.” — Rachel Maddow
(One of our theories here at The Village Square is that if we actually knew each other beyond the cut and paste quotes that uber-partisans regularly feed us, we’d like each other a little more. So please help me keep an eye out for people who’ve been – well, uh… divided — by the gaping partisan divide doing something intensely, decently human that you can’t help but kind of like…)
Today, President Ronald Reagan would have turned 100. From a Village Square perspective it’s interesting to observe the feuding over Reagan’s legacy, mainly because it’s more of a legacy of our time than it is of Reagan’s. Ronald Reagan was clear in his beliefs but he was not a flame-thrower. He invited people to the conversation. So in that spirit, and on this day:
I have always believed that a lot of the troubles in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other. –Ronald Reagan
The Miami News could easily have been the set for The Front Page, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s definitive look at the romance of journalism.
The News boasted a (secretly) vegetarian food editor, a car editor who didn’t have a car, a TV editor who didn’t have a TV, an education writer who dropped out of high school, and a world class stable of beat and investigative reporters.
At the moral center of it all was Clarke Ash, who was laid to rest yesterday in Vero Beach.
Mr. Ash was just 36 when he was named editorial page editor of the feisty afternoon daily that regularly showed up the bigger, fatter competition at the Miami Herald. In 1976, the News’ corporate owner dispatched Mr. Ash to the paper it owned up the road, The Palm Beach Post, where he continued to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable as editorial page editor until his retirement in 1989. Read all »
I’m a D.C. kid, having had the distinct privilege of growing up immersed in the sights and sounds of our nation’s capital (and taking the best field trips ever). In my hometown every evening the United States Constitution was lowered into the ground to ensure our form of government “shall not perish from this earth.”
Way to capture a child’s imagination.
Every time I’ve found myself on the Mall in the many years since I became an adult, my tour guide shtick includes pointing toward the National Archives and telling of the sheer glory of this nightly act. To me it is America’s brilliance made concrete: We have managed to build a form of government that supersedes personality, bloodline, power or money. It is bigger than all of us. Read all »
… From one Congress to the next, the change is only who blocks judicial nominees and who screams about the blocking. Apparently in this Congress the affirmation process has so slowed that 10% of positions are not filled. In the spirit of the State of the Union coming on Tuesday night, here’s a word about the state of the courts. It’s bad enough that Chief Justice John Roberts commented:
“Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” [Supreme Court Chief Justice John] Roberts said this month in his year-end report. “This has created acute difficulties for some judicial districts. Sitting judges in those districts have been burdened with extraordinary caseloads.”
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about working across the aisle. This seems to be an opportunity…