On June 6, 1944, members of the “Greatest Generation” began their invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord. This invasion of Europe is known as D-Day, and it is important because it was the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime. More than 4,400 Allied troops died during the landings in Normandy, and more than 10,000 were wounded.
According to Ben Shapiro, American civilians knew nothing about the invasion until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked all Americans to join him in praying for success of the mission.
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity… let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrow that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy were young – about the ages of college students today. They were 18 and 19 years old, and they had the courage to put their lives on the line for freedom. Many of today’s 18- and 19-year-old men and women need “safe places” to protect them from opposing viewpoints.
It is truly sad that our current resident of the White House made no mention of D-Day and maintained silence on the topic. He did not utter or tweet a single word about it even when his absence was noted. However, he made an extremely important comment about bravery the next day: “To transgender Americans across the country – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know your President has your back.” However, Shapiro noted the difference in bravery between the Greatest Generation and today’s generation.
Bravery circa 1944: young men charging from the choppy seas of the English Channel onto the corpse-strewn beaches of Normandy, hellfire raining down upon them, to liberate a continent.
Bravery circa 2021: young men identifying as women, and vice versa.
Our definitions of bravery have shifted rather dramatically.
Our old definition of courage used to comport with the Aristotelian notion of virtue. The virtue of courage – andreia, or manliness, in Greek – lay in recognition of serious risk in pursuit of a heroic telos, a final end.
“The courageous man withstands and fears those things which it is necessary [to fear and withstand], and on account of the right reason,” Aristotle explains in “Nicomachean Ethics.” Courage is calculated and calm risk-taking for the sake of the noble and the good.
Shapiro points out that “courage lies in authenticity” today. He also wrote that “our higher virtue isn’t in upholding and defending some standard for civilization at risk to ourselves. Higher value lies in finding our personal truths, and then demanding applause from the rest of the world. Heroism lies in forcing the world to bow before our subjective ideas of truth and decency.”
Nevertheless, Shapiro suggested another possibility for the new definition of bravery: “the goal of tearing down the old definition of the good… in personally rejecting old systems of thought and objective truth and in joining with others to demand that all systems of power be brought low.
Only time will tell if our nation falls with the new courage, or if it discovers men and women with the courage of the “Greatest Generation” and returns to full strength.