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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Run Me Up the Hill, Son - The Longest Day

Scaling the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc
I always do two things on the anniversary of D-Day. I watch President Reagans speech "The Boys of Pointe du Hoc" and I watch "The Longest Day". I want never to forget what our fathers did in that titanic struggle against unadulterated evil and these two things remind me of their courage.

The Longest Day is an amazing film and much under-rated against films like Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. The movie is based on Cornelius Ryan's well-researched book about D-Day and many of its scenes is based on actual stories from D-Day - true stories.
One of my favorite scenes from Longest Day is the clip during the taking of Ouistreham when a convent full of nuns walked straight across the battlefield bullets flying overhead, carrying first aid kits. The scene begins at 5:26 into the clip. The walk in close formation clutching their cases of medical supplies till the reach the positions of the Free French soldiers pinned down by German guns. The mother superior takes charge and sends her trained nurses into the rubble to treat the wounded. While the incident never actually happened, it did serve as an homage to the courage of many French women who came to the aid of the Allied invasion forces. What they did was, as quickly as possible nuns, nurses and chaplains descended on the scene of battle. The ladies set up hospitals and aid stations within sight of the fighting in some instances, especially around Caen. Their courage in locating so close to the battle lines meant that allied soldiers reached serious medical help within minutes of being wounded rather than waiting sometimes days to be transferred to a surgical hospital. The effectiveness of these close to the front lines hospitals led the Army to later develop the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH units). I have little or no doubt that had they been closer to the fighting, the sisters would have pitched in to treat wounded soldiers. As it was they got there as soon as possible and turned these front-line hospitals into amazingly efficient operations. Elise Rivet (Mother Elisabeth), a French saved hundreds of lives as a member of the resistance and in the end went to the gas chambers in the place of a pregnant Jewish mother. These ladies were extremely courageous.

The Longest Day gets a lot of criticism from modern film experts, especially for its giving credit to God for so many thing and for it's portrayal of religious persons in a heroic light. The critics would prefer a more bloody and violently gruesome portrayal war as being suitable for modern audiences. To portray war as noble or the soldiers who fight in it as heroic is somehow a disservice to modern sensibilities according to these experts. They don't want to see heroism, these children of post-modernism. They want to see something that says, "There's really no point to it all." The Longest Day shows audiences brave men and women doing the right thing because it means something. It must therefore be wrong somehow and be belittled by those who believe they know what is better for us than our silly forefathers with their belief in love, loyalty, faith, honor and other such claptrap.

When good no longer rises up against evil, but accepts the lesser of one or more evils as the best we can do, this world is doomed. Reagan at the end of his speech turned on the platform and looked at the now elderly gentlemen who as Army Rangers, scaled the cliffs under the guns and asked "Why did you do it?"  He then answered the question. "It was faith, belief, loyalty and love." Silly old values our world is trying so hard to put aside. The critics call such beliefs foolish and out of date and unfashionable and anyone who says it's not earns their disdain.
When did we stop believing there is some ultimate good that is worth risking everything to preserve? As we approach the end of the great worldwide conflict between good and evil, is it not still important to do what is right because it is right? Should might and power not be used for good, rather than as a tool in the hands of the greedy and sinful to oppress the innocent and murder the harmless.

We stand at a crossroads in our world's history and have been presented a choice, not between good and evil, but between two kinds of greed - both evil. Sadly, the same nation which once did the hard thing because it was right to do so, now gropes about in confusion trying to decide which of the paths before us is the lesser evil. We admire greed. We choose sides hoping, not to do the right thing, but to do the expedient thing; the thing that gains us membership to the winning side.

God help us as we watch our nation sacrifice its soul on the altar of comfort and a sense of belonging to the right herd. But do not be discouraged. Not every one will accept second worst as their only option. Not every person will compromise his or her honor, integrity, and principles for 30 pieces of silver. Some will stand until the final D-Day; the one in which heaven empties itself and God's armies pour over the Earth, gathering up those who have been loyal, brave and true. 
As our father's stood firm against the withering fire of the German guns, so we must stand firm until that day which is soon to come, when we will be delivered. You do not have to choose between evils. There is always another way - if you trust that God will honor your faith in standing for the right. I believe he will grant us deliverance from evil, no matter how desperate things look; no matter how much our cause appears to be lost, for as Jesus taught, "His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." I do believe God can manage to make all things turn out for good to those who are called according to His purpose.

And, as the American general said at the end of the film, we will be able to say to the angels that fly to our sides on that great D-Day, "Run me up the hill. dear friend,"
and home we will go.

© 2016 by Tom King

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