Every year at this time the news organizations find a few aging veterans of D-Day, the Allies invasion of Normandy that was a major milestone in our war against Nazi oppression in World War II. America didn’t enter that war with the overwhelming force that it has now and there was no guarantee that the Allies would prevail and save the grand experiment of Western Democracy. We lost thousands that day in the surf and in the carnage on the beaches, but every survivor and the families of those that didn’t were proud of what was accomplished.
Watching the coverage of President Trump’s photo-op march to St. John’s church as the Federalized troops cleared out the peaceful protest in progress with flash-bombs, tear-gas and rubber bullets turned my stomach. Flanked by Bill Barr, Mark Esper, General Mark Milley (in camo) and a few other flunkies and with Secret Service agents darting back in forth, the President strode to the church where Lincoln prayed stood in front of and held up a Bible.
Barr, who organized and ordered this, explained that the president had a right to walk safely on the streets too.
This was billed by the administration as a photo-op. Sure, but to what end? In fact, the pictures of the president posed with a Bible held upside down have no context other than that clownish smirk that says, fuck you America, I’m the president and I can do whatever I want.
This was not a photo-op it was a raw show of power and an attempted rebuke of the governors he had earlier berated as weak and afraid for not dominating the “battle-space” and repressing the protests being held around the country. These are the same governors whose stature has grown for their handling of the pandemic while his has shrunk.
Watching the D-Day coverage, I began wondering was what was going through the minds of those soldiers clearing the streets for the wanna-be dictator and his toadies. Do they imagine themselves being honored for their courage and persistence with the carnage of lost buddies lying all around them like those that stormed the beaches at Normandy? Doubtful.
Or do they worry their memory will be enshrined forever in the military Hall of Shame like the butchers of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam or the guards at Abu Ghraib in Iraq or the Guardsmen firing on student protesters at Kent State in Ohio?
Or will they hold close the excuse of so many of the defeated Nazis after World War II that they were only following orders?
God help them.