Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
What Americans Should Consider On D-Day’s Anniversary, From A Man Who Knows
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.
“Ask yourself, ‘Did I earn it?’” Cleland told Task & Purpose.
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.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.
The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.
"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.
Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.
For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.
On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."