Father Airborne

Friday, June 6, AD 2014


Father Francis Sampson

A leap year baby, Francis L. Sampson  was born on February 29, 1912 in Cherokee Iowa.

A quarter of a century later he graduated from Notre Dame and made a bee-line for St. Paul’s Seminary at Saint Paul Minnesota.  Ordained a priest for the Des Moines Iowa diocese on June 1, 1941, he served briefly as a parish priest at Neola, Iowa and taught at Dowling High School in Des Moines.

Eager to become a chaplain, as soon as he received permission from his Bishop Father Sampson enlisted in the United States Army in 1942.  Always looking for a challenge, he became regimental chaplain of the 501st Parachute Regiment of the 101rst Airborne.  In his memoirs, Look Out Below!, Father Sampson wrote about his joining a very tough branch of the service:

Continue reading...

One Response to Father Airborne

Pope Benedict on D-Day

Tuesday, June 3, AD 2014

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.

Continue reading...

11 Responses to Pope Benedict on D-Day

  • What an awesome insight. Benedict speaks the truth with such clarity. This statement carries real power because it is imbued with real virtues of faith hope and love backed by reason and truth (humility). I love this man!

  • What Anzlyne says about Pope Benedict is so true. “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”
    Only our Constitution has prevented some people from being killed for speaking out against government’s position on abortion, euthanasia, pornography and the state takeover of public lands and waterways. Some of us have been killed in the womb and euthanized. The rest of us are being forced by taxation to pay for it. But none of us are acknowledged as having an immortal soul in this atheistic mire.

  • “We,”First Person Plural, are the persons in the Constitution

  • “We Germans…”?

  • Yep, the Pope Emeritus is German.

  • The Second World War was not fought to liberate Germany from Nazi tyranny. It was fought for the same reason that the previous war was fought; to prevent an aggressive and militaristic Germany from imposing her will on other nations by force of arms. The rationale behind the long struggle against Bonaparte was basically the same. The nature of the regime was a factor in German aggression, but had Hitler been content with a revision of Germany’s eastern borders to mitigate the worst aspects of the Versailles Treaty (this was what Stresemann wanted at Locarno in 1925, and arguably got it in principle) then there would not have been a war.

    The main actor in the defeat of Nazi tyranny was another tyranny even more genocidal than Hitler’s, so to see the war in terms of a moral crusade is ludicrous. The plotters of July 1944 could claim moral justification for tyrannicide but their main motive was patriotic; they wanted to save Germany from total defeat and subjugation. In this they were naïve, since the Allies would not have agreed to a negotiated peace at this stage of the war, even with the Nazis out of the way. Churchill, with his visceral hatred of Bolshevism, might have been tempted, but Stalin would never have agreed and Roosevelt would have sided with Stalin.

    I suppose if you’re going to be invaded it’s better to be invaded by the British and Americans rather than by the Soviets; many of the occupied countries, not to mention a sizeable chunk of Germany, merely exchanged one tyranny for another.

  • “so to see the war in terms of a moral crusade is ludicrous.”

    Complete and utter rubbish.

  • …On stilts!

  • “We,” First Person Plural, are the persons in the Constitution.
    Justice is predicated on intent. Capital one homicide is predicated on the intent and murder of another person. The innocent, newly begotten child in the womb has been invited to live in the womb by the parents, mother and father, without whom there would be no invitation. The word invite INVITE means to offer life.
    Immediate death must be the only reason or situation here a child in utero may be removed, to save the life of the mother and/or of the child.
    “We, hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Men are CREATED EQUAL… not born equal. The sovereign person in the womb has been identified by his existence as Homo-Sapiens, “an individual substance of a rational nature” the person: “I AM”, created and endowed by our Creator with an immortal human soul.
    ““We Germans…”?”
    When a person renounces his citizenship by an act of the will or commits treason he loses his citizenship. When a person commits a heinous sin he is excommunicated and so on. When an individual behaves like a demon, his sovereign personhood is placed in suspended animation and he functions, possessed by his particular demon. The Nazis behaved like Nazis and therefore, having created a culture of Nazism, they suspended their own sovereignty and became hated by God, hated by themselves and hated by others as genocidal maniacs.
    It is important to note that Nazis through a free will act chose to be Nazis.

  • “”We,” First Person Plural, are the persons in the Constitution.” from the Preamble, the unchangeable purpose of the Constitution. “We” and our constitutional posterity, all future generations are human persons because the state does not create or endow sovereign personhood to an individual. The state merely certifies sovereign personhood. The state certifies sovereign personhood as citizenship.
    Atheism, as you can see, is the cause of the state’s rejection of all unalienable human and civil rights. Acknowledgement of the human being in existence as a person is denied by the state. The state cannot remove or deny sovereign personhood. Yet, the state has denied the acknowledgement of sovereign personhood to the one celled fertilized human egg who has been endowed by our Creator with life and growth, the proof of an immortal human soul.
    The atheist as a sovereign person in suspended animation must be tolerated until he chooses to adhere to the truth of the Constitution. Atheism is unconstitutional.

  • “I suppose if you’re going to be invaded it’s better to be invaded by the British and Americans rather than by the Soviets; many of the occupied countries, not to mention a sizeable chunk of Germany, merely exchanged one tyranny for another.”
    You have confused the Allies with Stalin.

70 Years Ago This Week

Monday, June 2, AD 2014

The video above was produced 7 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.”

Continue reading...

7 Responses to 70 Years Ago This Week

  • Great video — but they left out that Eisenhower had no “exit strategy”.

    No, we could not do D-day today. Gen. Patton would have been in fact fired for slapping a soldier. The press would never have cooperated in keeping all the secrets that needed to be kept. Most important, public support for the war would probably have melted away by 1943.

  • I am not so sure Thomas. Few people looking at America in the 1930s would have predicted that she could have performed so heroically and successfully as the nation did in World War II. Life and death challenges can bring forward unusual amounts of energy and determination in nations as well as individuals.

  • Among the many memorable actions of D-Day was the start of the battle of the Vercors plateau when in response to General de Gaulle’s broadcast signal of 5 June 1944, « le chamois des Alpes bondit » [The chamois of the Alps leaps forth] 4,000 maquisards occupied the mountainous area of Vassieux-en-Vercors in South-Eastern France – about as far away from the Normandy beaches as it is possible to get – and tied up some 11,000 German troops for over a month.
    Similar, smaller campaigns were waged all over the South and South West, in the hopes of deceiving the Germans into thinking the Normandy landings were a feint, with the real attack coming in the South.
    For at least one major component, the Spanish exiles, their armed struggle against Fascism had begun not on 18 June 1940 but on 17 July 1936. In the South-West, they eventually liberated 17 towns.

  • Omaha seems to me to be the American equivalent of the first day of the Battle of the Somme; a lot of factors, including luck, combining to create a near-catastrophe. The decision to decline the offer of AVREs (Hobart’s ‘funnies’) for no compelling reason; the inadequacy of the naval gunfire and air support (in contrast with what happened on the British and Canadian beaches); the launching of the DD tanks too far out from the shore; the inevitable failures of command and control. Like the Somme it was a bad start to an ultimately successful operation.

  • This is great: “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.”
    Thanks for sharing your insights into history Donald. I hope lots of younger people are reading this blog and learning the people and events of history are Not old news, but really are still current, still powerful.

  • Don

    One defeat after another. Omaha beach, then Cherbourg, Falise, Paris and on and on. I just don’t understand why the Germans surrendered when they had up on the rope at the Elbe.

    I do not support military censorship of the press, but it has been my observation the quality of the coverage nose dives when the press gets there and takes over from the military journalists.

  • “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast.”

    “I think I know what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.”

    William T. Sherman

First US Army Group

Sunday, June 1, AD 2014

“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, “Well, your Granddaddy shoveled sh-t in Louisiana.” No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, “Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-G-dd—ed-B—h named Georgie Patton!”

General George S. Patton, Jr., June 5, 1944


General George S. Patton, Jr., not only had high military skills, he was also a skilled actor, using that skill to inspire his troops and sometimes to terrify his immediate subordinates.  After Patton was placed in the dog house due to the slapping of a private on Sicily, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall came up with the idea of using Patton as a decoy:  Marshall wrote to Eisenhower on October 21, 1943: “It seems evident to us that Patton’s movements are of great importance to German reactions and therefore should be carefully considered. I had thought and spoke to [Eisenhower’s chief of staff, Walter Bedell] Smith about Patton being given a trip to Cairo and Cyprus but the Corsican visit appeals to me as carrying much more of a threat [to northern Italy].” Eisenhower responded, “As it is I am quite sure that we must do everything possible to keep [the Germans] confused and the point you have suggested concerning Patton’s movements appeals to me as having a great deal of merit. This possibility had not previously occurred to me.”

Ironically, although the Germans after his dash across France at the head of Third Army would regard Patton as one of ablest Allied generals, prior to that time his name figures little in German intelligence reports, while constant attention was paid to the movements of Montgomery.  The plan to use Patton as a decoy was therefore based on a faulty premise, but of course Eisenhower and Marshall were completely unaware of that.

Continue reading...

10 Responses to First US Army Group

  • Love this great figure in US military history.

    Loved the movie.

    Thanks for the great info., some of which I was not aware of.

  • Patton was a real hero, a manly man, and so were those who served under him. Not for him would be the Army of Barack Hussein Obama – effeminate, narcissist and sissified. Oh what eloquent words of profane, vile invective he would have for Obama, his wife Jezebel and the weak-kneed, yellow bellied Democrats would be a harmonious melody of music to hear over and over again. The things he said are so anti-liberal:
    “Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bull$###. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle.”
    “Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men.”
    “We’re going to murder those lousy Hun c###s#####s by the bushel-f###ing-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts.”
    Oh the words he would have for Obama I would so love to hear be uttered! Patton would know how to deal with the Islamic terrorists. Patton would know how to respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and China’s aggression against the Philippines. But we no longer have real men as leaders. We have p#$$ified politicians more interested in promoting sexual filth and murdering unborn babies. Cowards are they one and all. They commit acts of violence against the most innocent that would make Hitler and Stalin green with envy, and then tell us it is all about human rights. Patton would be aghast. Indeed, it is only men like Patton and those who served under him who understand what real human rights are, and who are willing to fight and defeat the enemy utterly, totally and completely.
    I am ashamed of the America that Obama and Jezebel and their Democrats have created. It is not the America that Patton and his men fought for.
    Mors Atheismo Democratiaeque! Vive Christe Rex!

  • What this country suffers from is a wholescale sissification in its educational system and the entertainment business does nothing but cause damage.

    We see it in the Church hierarchy. Ranting about the “broken” immigration system and the (rather rare use of) the death penalty but little to nothing about abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, contraception is what most of the Catholic Churchgoing public hears in homilies. One can count on one hand the bishops who openly confront abortionist politicians who call themselves Catholic.

    We are stuck with “Catholicrats”.

    This morning I was took my six year old to Mass and then to hockey camp. I was listening to Grove City college professor Paul Kengor substituting for Glenn Meacham. Kengor was interviewing a gentleman who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. It was a captivating interview. The courage those men had far exceeded any courage I have had.

  • Donald, wasn’t sure how to reach out by email, but I appreciate the thoughtful exchange on ‘Killing the Messenger.’ I regret some found it necessary to derail the entire conversation. Best Regards, Wayne

  • My dad was in the Third Army with Patton. I love Patton.
    Did you know that he converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.

  • Interesting stuff. My favorite line from that great movie “Patton”, is when he is trying to out maneuver Rommel in N. Africa:

    Patton: “Rommel… you magnificent bastard, I read your book!”

  • PWP, I hope you feel better after that exemplary eruption. I know that for reading it, I certainly do. Bravo. Viva Christo Rey!

  • I wasn’t aware that he converted to Catholicism. There is an Episcopal church here in San Gabriel, California just a few blocks away from my home that prominently features the Patton family name on various memorials. There’s also a life sized statue of Gen Patton on the grounds next to the cemetery. Every Memorial Day my wife and I take the kids to the San Gabriel Mission where there is a small plaque honoring the local war dead and veterans, and we say a prayer and leave flowers. In the future we may carry out the tradition at the Patton statue, as long as we can be sure his ghost isn’t haunting the church grounds and cursing obscenities. ; )

  • Patton was a victim of ‘political correctness’ long before the term was invented. Lord knows what he would have made of female combat soldiers and enforced tolerance of homosexuality. Sadly, we shall not see his like again. A memorable line from the movie: “Gimme two weeks and I’ll start a war with those goddam Russkies and make it look like it was their fault”.

  • “I wasn’t aware that he converted to Catholicism.”

    He didn’t, although he did attend Mass occasionally during the War. The chief chaplain of the Third Army was Monsignor James H. O’Neil who wrote the famous weather prayer. Go to the link below to read his account:


D-Day, History and Memory

Thursday, June 6, AD 2013

Sixty-Nine years since D-Day.  In the first law firm I worked for in 1982 the Senior Partner had lost a son on Omaha Beach.  The man I was replacing had just been made a Judge, and still walked with a limp from being shot up on Omaha Beach.  Another partner had been with the Eighth Air Force in England, helping to plot flight missions in support of D-Day.  This was in a five man firm, including myself.  D-Day left its mark on this nation, with its approximately 3,000 dead and 6000 wounded Americans, but with the passage of time it has become relegated to the history books as those who lived the longest day depart from the scene.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to D-Day, History and Memory

  • The hands and feet and face of Justice, and they would do it all over again.

  • Let me tell you. The man stood before me and raised his tee shirt. There was a scar from his neck to below his belt. He turned around and there was a scar from his neck to below his belt. He told me that the shell had gone right through his body. Here he was telling me that he had been there on D Day. The man was the personification of courage and determination. He gave me to know that he would do it all over again.

2 Responses to Ronald Reagan Speech: 40th Anniversary of D-Day

  • And what will the Obamanation of Desolation have to say? Whatever it is, I shall ignore it.

    I hope that President Reagan is in Heaven enjoying that beatific vision to which we all aspire.

  • I don’t have the education, thus the correct words to pay proper tribute to this great American, but I know one thing, after George Washington, he is the greatest leader this nation has ever known! Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln not with standing. Could there be any more illuminating times than now to clarifie what this man was all about and to focus on what this country is supposed to be about and IS about? In other words, when you don’t have a thing, when you’ve lost your way, when the ship of state is taking on water and sinking, one harkens back to the true captains, the good ship mates, the real leaders………………………

Father Ranger

Wednesday, June 6, AD 2012

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...

3 Responses to Father Ranger

Reagan’s Normandy Speech

Friday, May 27, AD 2011

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

Sunday, June 6, AD 2010

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.””

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Liberation of Rome

  • Again, thank you for posting.

    My Uncle Thomas (RIP) received a Papal Blessing in St. Peter’s Sq. in those wartorn days. He had a picture of it.

    Uncle Tom served as a tanker with Patton in Tunisia and Sicily. He was still fighting in the Po Valley when the Nazis surrendered in May 1945.

    My Uncle John (RIP) landed in Normandy with the First Infantry Division. He lived the opening scenes of “Saving Private Ryan.” What a gentle, wonderful man! Only thing I ever heard him say about the war was he and his fellows were disappointed that they had to stop at the Elbe; they wanted to take Berlin for their buddies that were killed.

    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

    “Lest we forget.”

  • We owe men like your Uncle John, T. Shaw, a debt that can never be paid.

  • Gad, I wish folks had exchanges like that these days….

  • Most of my male relatives of the “Greatest Generation” era were Navy men and were in the Pacific theatre during WWII, but one uncle, my dad’s brother, was Army, serving with Patton’s Third. He died of a sudden heart attack when I was in second grade, but according to my aunt all he ever said about the war was that he had walked across Europe, but what he saw really wasn’t all that scenic.

    Prayers today for the brave souls who braved the beaches at Normandy…

  • T Shaw.

    Intersting that your uncle Tom was in the same theatre of war in Italy where my dad was. Dad went over with the NZEF 2nd reinforcement, and saw action in the Rimini/Faenza area,and entered the Po Valley, but was repatriated in early 1945 with a bad back injury – not a wound, but he was in the 27 Machine Gun Battn. and damaged his back throwing around amunition cases. The NZ Battalions pressed on to Trieste and had a confrontation with Tito and his Commie bunch.

    I didn’t realise the Americans got over there to the east coast – I know they pressed north and east after the liberation of Rome, but didn’t realise they were in the Po area as well. Dad spoke of the Canadians, Poles, South Africans and Gurkhas – maybe the US troops joined up in that area after dad was sent home.

    Anyway, God bless you and your family, mate.

Reagan and FDR

Saturday, February 6, AD 2010

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.”

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Reagan and FDR

  • Happy Birthday to you and Ronaldus Magnus!

    It would be quite interesting to hear your thoughts in another post on how FDR was the right man at the right time for WWII. I had always thought that America would have been better off if FDR had never been born (based on the epic failure of his economic policies which 70 years later continue to be a moral/financial plague on this nation).

  • Try as I might I can’t gather up the admiration for FDR the way I can for RWR. Leaving aside his economic mistakes, his complete misunderstanding of Stalin had truly horrible consequences. Stalin rolled him.

    That said, I agree that it is important that a leader display confidence and grace under fire, and both Reagan and Roosevelt did that.

  • As a practical matter Mike there was absolutely nothing that FDR could have done regarding Soviet control over Eastern Europe after World War II short of igniting World War III. FDR and Churchill merely recognized a fait accompli. Whether they recognized it or not, the Red Army wasn’t going to move from East Germany, Poland, Rumania, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria unless they were driven from it. I think precious few Americans would have been willing to pay the price to accomplish this. Truman was much harder edged than FDR regarding Stalin, but he never considered the type of war to drive the Soviets back into the Soviet Union that Patton supported. Other than Patton I can think of no high ranking American civilian or military who thought such a war would be a good idea.

  • Don,
    I don’t disagree that FDR had limited options. But the fact remains that the record is clear that he trusted Stalin — he really did! His statements at the time (including private statements to advisors) reveal an appalling naivety that greatly disturbed those with better judgment including Churchill. And Truman was a slow learner himself. After the famous iron curtain speech Truman was so angry at Churchill he called Stalin to apologize. Finally, while we may have had limited options regarding the eastern Europe the forced (and that is a mild word for it) return of thousands of Russian prisoners to the USSR against their will was an inexcusable moral lapse on the part of FDR. It was one of the saddest episodes in US history.

  • “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.”

    As a retired military who served almost my entire career during the cold war, I would have completely agreed with these statements – back then.

    21 years later I don’t think they completely stand the test of time. Let me break it down:

    1. On “restoring prosperity” – he may have restored temporary (immediate) effects from the “Carter Malaise”, but the long term effects of Reaganomics of deficit spending and deregulation started us on the glide path of crushing debt we are in today.


    The other reality is it was the brutal austerity by Paul Volker and the Fed that stopped the rampant inflation. Reagan was his cheerleader, but he had no say in that decision as the Fed acts independently of the government.

    2. Regarding the “Cold War” – again he a a PART in this but there were two other factors that played a much bigger role, the first being Pope John Paul II, the second was that with or without Reagan, the Soviet economy would have collapsed (in fact already had) because it was always destined to collapse. Reagan just happened to be in the chair when the music stopped.

    To his credit he had to work within the confines of the system as it was in his time, and I do believe that he knew that the unbridled capitalism he unleashed would have to be reigned in at some point as evidenced by this speech:

    Ronald Reagan’s Speech on Project Economic Justice

    3. Regarding his optimism, There I’ll agree. At times I wanted to jump off a tall building after listening to “Jimmah” and his constant whining and droning, and Reagan could deliver a speech like no other in my lifetime – I think that was his biggest contribution, getting people to believe in themselves and America again.

  • In regard to Stalin Mike, FDR was already sending cables to Stalin in March of 1945 accusing him of breaking his Yalta commitments over Poland, Germany, prisoners of war and other issues. The Grim Reaper prevented us from knowing how FDR would have dealt with Stalin post war, but I assume he would have followed a similar path to that taken by Truman. The forced repatriation of Soviets who were captured by the Western allies while serving the Nazis is something that should not have been agreed to at Yalta and not something carried out in 1946, long after FDR’s death. I would note however, that not all of the Soviets so repratriated were innocent victims. More than a few had commited atrocities while serving with the Nazis, including cossacks who served in the Waffen SS. They however should have been tried in the West rather than turned over to the Soviets. I would note that Britain and the US did refuse to turn over to the Soviets displaced persons from lands annexed by the Soviet Union during World War II, including the Baltic States, Eastern Poland, Western Ukraine and West Byelorussia. A good article on the subject of the forced repatriations is linked below.


  • Jim, in regard to Reagan I respectfully disagree. He supported the anti-inflationary policies of Volker at a high political cost. These policies led to the recession of 81-82 which cost the Republicans quite a few seats in Congress. Reagan had the nerve to stay the course and reappointed Volker in 83. The deregulation movement initiated by Reagan was also very important in starting a wave of prosperity that went on for two decades. The deficit spending was a huge problem that Reagan failed to address, but the return to prosperity, at the time, was more important than balancing the books, which Congress was simply not going to do in any case. We always have to remember with Reagan that he never had a GOP house, and for his last two years he faced a Congress completely controlled by the Democrats.

    In regard to the Soviet Union, their economy had been collapsing since 1917, by Western standards. The Soviets nonetheless maintained their empire. The Reagan military build up, and especially his bringing the Pershing missles to Europe and his much derided Star Wars proposal, convinced enough Soviet leaders that they simply could no longer keep up with the US and they needed to bring the Cold War to an end. John Paul II and his support for Solidarity in Poland was of course very important, but it was Reagan and his build up that came at precisely the right time to topple the Soviet Union. A good article on the subject is linked below.


  • I can’t imagine anyone who could have done a better job executing that war – from marshaling resources to putting the best people in the right roles. The world owes thanks to FDR for that. On the flip side, FDR deserves the world’s scorn for the sellout of Eastern Europe. Millions and millions of people suffered or were murdered because of that. Look how many subsequent wars were waged because the USSR was empowered. Shameful. I get the pragmatism of assisting the USSR and allying ourselves with them for the objective of defeating Hitler, but one would think that considering Stalin was just as bad or worse and just as guilty for the starting that war that aid would be limited to such a degree as to keep the USSR in the game and no more. I can’t help but to think that it all may have turned out differently if FDR wasn’t such a statist to begin with.

  • Must disagree, RL. Via-a-vis the post-war situation in Eastern Europe, I think Mr. McClarey is correct, for the most part. There is one qualification, and that concerns the situation in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Competitive and passably fair elections were held in these countries (in November 1945 and February 1946, respectively) and the means the local Communists used to seize power involved industrial actions and the staffing of the government departments over which they were given control in the coalition ministries of the immediate post-war period. One might at least give some thought to counter-factual scenarios in which effectively implemented clandestine operations might have disrupted certain of their activities and given elements of the civil society enough power to resist that the Soviets might have accepted a Finland solution for one or the other.

    The situation that FDR inherited in 1933 was far more dire than that which Mr. Reagan inherited in 1981, so I think an analogy between the two is of limited utility. Between the last quarter of 1929 and the first quarter of 1933, the country had seen a fall in real domestic product of nearly 30%; forty percent of the banks in the United States had failed, and depositors could only get their money back in time-consuming bankruptcy proceedings; equities had lost 85% of their nominal value; the body of business corporations were posting a collective loss; fully half the homeowners with mortgages (a proportionately smaller group then) were delinquent on their payments; and a quarter of the formal-sector work force was unemployed. The principal policy problem that Mr. Reagan faced was currency erosion; the year-over-year decline in domestic product from 1979 to 1980 was 0.2%.

    I do not know how much of the prosperity of the last three decades I would attribute to Mr. Reagan’s policy preferences. That aside, there is the question of how prosperous this era has been in relation to cross-sectional or historical means. If I am not mistaken, the last thirty years have seen a mean growth of domestic product per capita of 1.4% per annum. The United States is about at the technological frontier, so it does not reap the benefits of economic dynamism from the application of technologies developed elsewhere (as does South Korea); it has also grown faster than western Europe (since 1980) and Japan (since 1990). Still, it has grown more slowly than it did during the period running from 1929 to 1980, when mean annual improvements in real income per capita were on the order of 2.0%. It is difficult to tease out the sources of spatial and temporal variation in economic dynamism.

    Deregulation is a good thing when it acts to bust up state-administered cartels and dispose of price controls; it is also a good thing when there are other policy instruments which are as effective or more effective toward certain ends than command-and-control regulation. It is a good thing when regulations have collected like barnacles and lead to perverse results. It was also not exclusive to the Reagan Administration. The deregulation of the transportation sector was an initiative of the previous administration, and Mr. Carter did his best (against Congressional opposition) to sell decontrol of oil prices. However, deregulation of the financial sector and the evolution of the culture of financial institutions has led to four separate crises over the last thirty years. It has not been a successful enterprise.

    One should point out that the country began running deficits on the current account of the balance of payments in 1981/82 and was a net debtor by the end of 1984. If one looks at Federal Reserve figures, one can see a secular increase in the propensity of households to make use of debt over that time. These are aspects of the Reagan legacy as well, though to be sure, it is difficult to imagine the U.S. Congress consenting to the consumption taxes necessary to stanch the accumulation of household debt (or, in fact, doing anything at all other than feeding their favored client groups).

    Did you catch Henry Paulson on PBS the other night? Noting that a year after a hideous banking crisis Congress had still not crafted legislation to create an institutional architecture for rapidly winding-down firms in the capital markets like Lehman Brothers, he said he had to conclude they do nothing unless a crisis forces it. Mr. Carter, Mr. Reagan, and everyone after them have had to confront the same problem: Congress is rotten.

Father Ranger

Saturday, June 6, AD 2009

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.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Father Ranger

  • Later Monsignor Joe Lacy was a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford CT. I believe he is mentioned in “The Longest Day.” Until this article, I did not know that he had received the Distinguished Service Cross. I do not doubt that few in our diocese did.

  • I am President of 5th Rangers Reenacted, a historical reenactment group that portrays 5th Rangers at various public events. I am privileged to portray Fr. Lacy.

    When Fr. Lacy reported to the Rangers a few days before D-Day, the commander of the Rangers looked at him and said, “Padre, you’re old and you’re fat. You’ll never keep up with us.”

    Fr. Lacy looked at him and replied, “You don’t worry about about that, I’ll do my job. You tell me where you’ll be at the end of the day and I’ll be there.”

    I have been fortunate to visit Omaha Beach twice and walk the area these brave men contested on June 6, 1944. Every man who landed there was a hero, some of their deeds were recognized, many are only marked by a simple marble Roman cross.

    The following is the citation for his Distinguished Service Cross.

    First United States Army
    APO 230

    General orders No. 28
    20 June 1944

    Section I–Award of Distinguished Service Cross–Under the provisions of AR 600-45, 22 September 1943, and pursuant to authority contained in paragraph 30, Section I, Circular No. 32, Hq ETOUSA, 20 March 1944, as amended, the Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to the following officers and enlisted men:

    E * X * T * R * A * C * T

    First Lieutenant Joseph R. LACY, 0525094, Chaplain Corps, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action on 6 June 1944 at *******, France. In the invasion of France, Chaplain LACY landed on the beach with one of the leading assault units. Numerous casualties had been inflicted by the heavy rifle, mortar, artillery and rocket fire of the enemy. With complete disregard for his own safety, he moved about the beach, continually exposed to enemy fire, and assisted wounded men from the water’s edge to the comparative safety of a nearby seawall, and at the same time inspired the men to a similar disregard for the enemy fire. Chaplain LACY’s heroic and dauntless action is in keeping wit the highest traditions of the service. Entered military service from Connecticut.

  • Thank you for the info Ed! Men like Chaplain Lacy and the other Rangers who landed on the beach that day are torches who light the way for the rest of us.

  • I have read this article with great interest as like Ed Lane I belong to a Rangers Reenactment group- this time based in the UK. I am just beginning to resarch Fr Lacy with a view to portryaing him this side of the Pond. I find his story inspiring as I spent several years studying for the priesthood.

    I would like to ensure that the bravery of Fr Lacy and all the chaplains in WW2 is also remebered along with all those young men who gave their lives for our generation

    Fr Ranger- Lead the Way!

  • Indeed Rich! You might like this post on the original Ranger.


  • http://5thrib.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=logout

    Please contact us at our web site. Hit the “Help” button to navigate.

    We will be glad to share information with you.

    I am a Postulant in the Holy Order of Deacons in the Anglican Communion.

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

Saturday, June 6, AD 2009

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..

Continue reading...

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

  • Heaven help Michael I., Benedict sounds just like Donald on this subject.

    Really, the Vox Nova folks need to set the Pope straight. Giving thanks for the Allied troops? Saying Churchill and Roosevelt were motivated by Christian faith? Only warmongering Americanists say things like that.

    Again, bless the men who fought on those beaches. And thank the WWII veterans you know. They will not be with us much longer.

We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

Saturday, June 6, AD 2009

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.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

  • And here is Olivier’s performance of the speech from his 1944 version of Henry V. The British government supported the production of the film to raise morale, and the “extras” in the film who portrayed English soldiers were British commandoes who went on to fight in France.

  • The Olivier and Branagh versions of Henry V strike me as one of the best pairs of Shakespearean adaptations to compare. Both are very good, though I must admit I prefer Branagh’s to Olivier’s.

    Olivier’s was made with hope of victory in WW2 in mind while Branagh had set out to make a “post-Vietnam Henry V”, and you can see it in the differences in how scenes were framed between the two productions. Branagh’s camera is always angled down, you almost never see the sky in the whole production. While Olivier’s frame always catches the sky.

    I wish I knew what recording was being played on record in the landing boat — I expect it would have sounded much more like Olivier’s rendition than Branagh’s, Olivier being the absolute top Shakespearean actor at the time.

  • I prefer Branagh’s as well, even without Doyle’s marvelous score.

    Interesting note about the extras, Donald.

  • Prayers for the brave souls who fought and died on those beaches and for all our WWII veterans.

    I haven’t seen Branagh in anything for quite some time. What a gifted actor, with a beautiful voice. Olivier, of course, was one of the greats. A much older neighbor once told me she had the good fortune of seeing Olivier’s black-face “Othello” in London in the ’60’s and it remained the most powerful performance she had ever seen in her life.