D-Day

Father Ranger

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Monsignor Joseph R. Lacy

The men of the 5th Ranger Battalion could barely keep from laughing when they first saw their chaplain, Lieutenant Joe Lacy, a week before D-Day.  These were young men, in peak physical condition.  Father Joe Lacy was old by Ranger standards, knocking on 40, overweight by at least 30 pounds, wearing thick glasses and short, 5 foot, six inches.  He was described by one Ranger as “a small, fat old Irishman.”  No way would he be able to keep up when they  invaded France.

On the trip across the Channel to France,  Chaplain Lacy told the men:  “When you land on the beach and you get in there, I don’t want to see anybody kneeling down and praying. If I do I’m gonna come up and boot you in the tail. You leave the praying to me and you do the fighting.”  A few of the men began to think that maybe this priest was tougher than he looked. Continue reading

Pope Benedict on D-Day

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On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe.  What had happened?  A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil.  And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us.  If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.

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Reagan’s Normandy Speech

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The first law firm I worked for in 1982 after I graduated from law school had three attorneys.  The senior partner had a son who fell at Omaha Beach.  Another partner was an officer in the Eighth Air Force helping to plot bombing missions in support of D-Day.  The attorney I replaced, who had been appointed to be a judge, had been badly wounded at Omaha Beach and still walked with a very pronounced limp as a result.  On Memorial Day  weekend I will remember those men, and all those who have sacrificed on behalf of our nation.  Here is the text of President Reagan’s speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day: Continue reading

Liberation of Rome

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Today is the 66th anniversary of the D-Day landings.  If the D-Day landings hadn’t occurred, the big news would have been the liberation of Rome.  The above video is color footage showing the entrance of some of the American troops into Rome on June 5, 1944, and an audience they had with Pope Pius XII.

The Pope, like almost all Romans, was joyous to be free from Nazi occupation, and he made that clear when he met with General Mark Clark.

“A few days after the liberation of Rome, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the Fifth Allied Army, paid his respects to the Pope: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” Pius XII smiled and replied: “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like.”"

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Reagan and FDR

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Happy birthday Gipper!  Reagan and I share the same birthday.  My beloved bride has the same birthday as FDR, January 30.  My daughter’s birthday is February 9.  This time of year is a good time for cake at the McClarey household!

It will come as little surprise to faithful readers of this blog, that I consider Ronald Reagan to be one of the great American presidents.  My views on him are sent forth in this recent thread.  He restored our prosperity and brought the Cold War to a successful conclusion.  His radiant optimism was a tonic for the nation’s shaken morale.  He deserves to be on Mount Rushmore if there were room.

It will perhaps stun faithful readers of this blog to learn that I have similar feelings for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Although I believe much of the New Deal was counterproductive and completely wrong-headed, FDR understood that raising the nation’s morale was absolutely critical.  His sunny ebullient optimism, and his ringing phrase, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” were just what the nation needed.  His fireside chats, which Reagan emulated in his Saturday radio chats, were a brilliant stroke which helped forge a personal bond between FDR and much of the nation.  (Although not my Republican shoemaker grandfather who remained impervious to the charms of FDR to his dying day!)  During the war his leadership was masterful and greatly aided the US in winning in 3 and a half years a global conflict.  Prosperity was restored to the US on his watch, although it was due to the War and not the New Deal.

Reagan was a supporter of FDR.  He used to say he didn’t leave his party, his party left him.  Looking at Reagan side by side with FDR, it is hard not to believe that Reagan learned many valuable leadership lessons from FDR.

Reagan and FDR  were both ardent patriots with a deep love for this nation.  Their optimism was based on their belief that the US could overcome its present difficulties and go forward to a brighter future.  I find this personally appealing.  Optimism and courage are necessary both in our lives here on Earth and in our spiritual lives.  I have always agreed with Saint Francis, “Let gloom and despair be among the Devil and his disciples.”

Father Ranger

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Monsignor Joseph R. Lacy

The men of the 5th Ranger Battalion could barely keep from laughing when they first saw their chaplain, Lieutenant Joe Lacy, a week before D-Day.  These were young men, in peak physical condition.  Father Joe Lacy was old by Ranger standards, knocking on 40, overweight by at least 30 pounds, wearing thick glasses and short, 5 foot, six inches.  He was described by one Ranger as “a small, fat old Irishman.”  No way would he be able to keep up when they  invaded France.

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The 65th Anniversay of D-Day – Memories of those who fought, and to whom we give thanks.

On June 6th we commemorate the anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy — conveying our thanks to those who fought and died for the liberation of Europe, and the world, from the Nazis.

Many stories and reflections will be shared today. Here are just a few.

As remembered by Capt. John G. Burkhalter, former Miami minister and chaplain with the “Fighting First” division in France:

On one occasion we were near some farm houses and some large shells began to fall, so several of us near a stone barn dashed into it to get out of the way of shrapnel. Just inside was a mother hen covering her little chicks. When we hurried in she became frightened and fluffing her feathers rose up to protect her young. I looked at her and silently said, “No, mother hen, we are not trying to hurt you and your little family, we are trying to hurt each other.”

Nobody can love God better than when he is looking death square in the face and talks to God and then sees God come to the rescue. As I look back through hectic days just gone by to that hellish beach I agree with Ernie Pyle, that it was a pure miracle we even took the beach at all.” Yes, there were a lot of miracles on the beach that day. God was on the beach D-Day; I know He was because I was talking with Him..

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65 Years Ago

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The video above was produced 2 years ago.  If D-Day were to occur today under the current administration I suspect that the coverage of most of the media would be in the nature of  “OBAMA STORMS ASHORE IN NORMANDY!” or “THE NAZIS ARE AFRAID OF OBAMA!”.  When the press isn’t in the tank however, their coverage of military matters normally is in accord with this sarcastic comment of General Robert E. Lee:  

“We made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We appointed all our worst generals to command our armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers.”

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We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

At 6:30AM on June 6th, 1944 — 65 years ago today — American, British and Canadian soldiers assaulted the beaches of Nazi-occupied France in the first day of the return of the land war to Western Europe in World War II. In some sectors of the 50-mile-long section of coastline chosen for the landings, defense was minimal and soldiers slogged stolidly through the surf and onto land. In others, especially the American Omaha Beach, the first waves came under a withering barrage of machine gun and mortar fire which nearly completely wiped out the first waves.

The bravery of young men in such conditions, and the fears and sadness of their loved ones back home, constitute the sort of heroism, sacrifice and tragedy which have moved human hearts from the most ancient epics until the present day.

In one of the British landing craft, an officer played for his men a phonograph recording of the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. And so it seems a fitting tribute to the bravery of all the men from throughout the English-speaking world who huddled in their boats in the terrifying minutes before battle sixty-five years ago to post this, one of the greatest martial speeches in English literature, in the rendition from Kenneth Branagh’s outstanding production.

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