Today is Memorial Day 2016 and I’m inspired to write this post after listening over and over again to the musical track for the brilliant award-winning musical HAMILTON by Lin-Manuel Miranda: HAMILTON reminded me that the Revolutionary War was not won only by Paul Revere’s midnight ride and the opening shots at Lexington and Concord. The war was actually won by numerous battles fought by U.S. troops with very few resources at hand.
As the actor playing George Washington sings in the HAMILTON song “Right Hand Man” —
We are outgunned,
(Besides listening over and over to the HAMILTON musical track, I’m also slowly reading the book HAMILTON THE REVOLUTION by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter that includes notes on which parts of the musical deviate from the historical record.)
U.S. troops have been protecting the democracy and freedom of the people of the United States as well as the democracy and freedom of other people since that time. And once a year, before we set out for our day-off activities, it is important that we remember what Memorial Day really means.
The liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany:
One of the most important wars ever won by U.S. troops along with U.S. allies is World War II. This feat is something of which I am often reminded and which I feel is not always given its full due.
Yesterday I saw the special exhibit “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” curated by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (This exhibit is currently on display at the Los Angeles Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. Click here for more info.)
The exhibit depicts the use of propaganda to rouse the German people to wage war against so many countries and to kill 6 million Jews and 5 million others — Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally deficient people, political opponents, etc. — in the Nazis’ program of deliberate extermination. This does not count the millions killed by the German war machine.
And then at the end of the exhibit are photos of the U.S. military liberating some of the concentration camps. The U.S. and its allies winning World War II saved the remnants of these prisoners and started Europe back on a road to democracy.
(While the Nazis killed 6 million Jews, they actually planned to kill 11 million Jews according to the Wannsee Protocol established at the Nazis’ Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. This Nazi plan included killing all the Jews in Europe, including in countries such as England and Ireland that the Nazis had not yet conquered.)
Having personally stood at Pointe du Hoc — a 100-foot cliff overlooking the English Channel — on the windswept Normandy beaches with the German pillboxes behind me, I can imagine the dread felt by the American and British forces landing on those beaches on D-Day June 6, 1944, with no cover to protect them from the nonstop German gunfire.
And yet those military forces struggled into the face of that brutal gunfire as the first step to liberating all of Europe — in which heroic fight so many of our military died.
For that bravery in the face of death in World War II and in all the other past and current (and future) battles fought by U.S. military men and now women to protect our way of life, I give thanks on this Memorial Day.
© 2016 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) is a member of the Department of Defense’s Bloggers Roundtable and frequently blogs about military topics. See her PTSD project site SolomonsJustice.com and her military novels at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller