Editor's note: This story originally appeared in 2014.
On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 brave men participated in the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy. They were American, they were Canadian, they were British; they were united under one goal — to save Europe.
Nearly 5,000 men lost their lives that day, their sacrifice helped defeat the Nazis and is seared in the hearts of millions. Now, seven decades later, people will look back at that momentous day that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
In honor of the anniversary of D-Day, Task & Purpose spoke with Max Cleland, who shared his thoughts on this historic day, and what Americans need to bear in mind.
Cleland speaks with a particular authority on this subject. He himself is no stranger to the sacrifices associated with war. As a young, highly decorated U.S. Army captain in Vietnam in 1968, Cleland was badly wounded in a grenade blast. He lost both legs and much of one arm.
He went on to a remarkable career of public service, serving as administrator of the Veterans Administration and later as a U.S. senator from Georgia. He now serves as chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which manages every American military cemetery on foreign soil.
As part of his present duties, Cleland is responsible for the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. Nearly 10,000 Americans are laid to rest there.
When Cleland first visited Omaha Beach, the scene of some of the most intense fighting, he said his reaction was “Oh, my God.”
“Every American ought to go to Normandy and see how those men saved Western civilization,” Cleland said. “Then ask yourself, ‘Did I earn that freedom?’”
It’s a poignant sentiment for the anniversary of D-Day, but particularly resonant for a modern American populace remarkably disconnected from its military and their sacrifices.
The pain endured during war in the spirit of national defense needs to be a “pain shared equally,” Cleland said.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."