I am appalled that this man represented my country at the D-Day commemoration


As y’all know, I generally don’t like to let the sixth of June go by without acknowledging it in some way. The events of that day in 1944 stagger the imagination, and loom large in my concept of my country and its place in the world.

It’s not just the bold stroke at dislodging Hitler from the Continent, from the world. For that matter, I’m not even sure it was the decisive battle of the war; I remain too ignorant of the titanic struggles on the Eastern Front to be able to peg that with confidence. Serious students of history can have lively arguments about that.

But it was monumental. In fact, it was, on almost any measurement or any scale, just possibly the most impressive thing the human race has done in one day in the past century. It’s absolutely astounding, not just as the aggregation of personal acts of courage it took, but the fact that human beings worked together that well to do a supremely difficult thing that was eminently worth doing. (So yeah, for me there’s a huge communitarian aspect to it.)

A thing that hope for future freedom depended on to such a degree…

So I like to take note of it, I feel obliged to take note of it, particularly since I live in a world in which far too few people even care about having a concept of historical context, of what it took to form our present existence. And the 75th anniversary, likely the last major milestone that any of those few remaining veterans will see, is particularly important.

But I haven’t written about it before this late hour because I haven’t wanted to share the cloud of negativity that has overshadowed this event for me this week, this year.

All week, we’ve been building up to it. The man this country elected president has been slouching toward Normandy ever since the weekend, spewing his vulgarity, his grossness, his self-absorption and disregard for decency before him like the burning fuel from a flamethrower.

I’ve been so embarrassed for our country that Queen Elizabeth, the prime minister and other dignitaries of the best friend this nation has ever had have been forced, by respect for our relationship, to entertain this supreme vulgarian. The Brits have been doing what decency and respect for friends demands, and the fact that they’re having to lavish all this on Donald J. Trump is our collective fault for electing him.

I’m not going to recite all the mortifying things he’s said and done this week while representing our country among civilized people abroad. Go read about them yourself, here and here and here and on and on. I call your attention in particular to his constant evocation of himself, which is the only person on the planet he cares about.

All that has been bad enough.

But to know that this person was going to head our delegation to the commemoration of the Normandy landings was so much worse.

This was a day for taking stock of our country and what it has stood for, what it has meant to the world back before the ugly resurgence of “America First.”

This was a day for humbly acknowledging Courage and Honor and Duty and Sacrifice. And we sent a man who does not know what those words mean, who does not care that he does not know, a man who in fact is the embodiment of the opposites of those virtues.

Seventy-five years ago, we sent such good men over there, the best we had.

Look what we sent this week.

And yes, yes, I know we sent D-Day veterans as well, and I stand in awe of them. No one, not even Trump, can take the slightest scrap of honor from them. But look who we sent to stand in front of them…


23 thoughts on “I am appalled that this man represented my country at the D-Day commemoration

  1. bud

    The man this country elected president has been slouching toward Normandy ever since the weekend, spewing his vulgarity, his grossness, his self-absorption and disregard for decency before him like the burning fuel from a flamethrower.

    There are very few things in this world that get me more nonplussed than this ridiculous notion that “this country elected” Donald Trump. It’s the foolishness and absurdity of the people who continue to support the damned illogical, manifestly un-democratic electoral college that allowed this travesty. Yes he is vulgar. Yes he is completely unfit for office. Yes he a self-absorbed narcissist. But the American people absolutely DID NOT elect this man. It gets under my skin like nothing else to read this nonsense almost as much as Trump himself. The electoral college was designed for one purpose and one purpose only, to PREVENT a man like Donald Trump from assuming the job of POTUS. And it failed, bigly. So if you don’t like Trump or the nearly as bad travesty George W. Bush then damn it get behind the National Popular Vote Compact and get rid of it. But don’t blame the American people. Just for the record I’ve been for a popular vote change since the 1976 election. It was after that near miss that Gerald Ford called for a repeal of the electoral college.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Sorry, Bud, but I can’t wash my hands of responsibility that easily.

      My country DID elect him, the way we always elect presidents. And I feel the shame when he goes over there and embarrasses us. I can’t just say, “Oh, it was those other people.” This is my country, and this is who we have allowed to be our president…

  2. Bart

    WTH!!! Can’t one day go by, especially today, without going after Trump? Today was about the men who gave their lives on the beaches at Normandy not Donald J. Trump!!! He is POTUS whether you like it or not and as such, he was there to represent America for the memorial service for D-Day. This was not about Trump or Bush, get it bud? I know your Dad was a career military man Brad but couldn’t you just let it go for this one time? We are slowly losing the men and women of the Greatest Generation and for one damn day, couldn’t you let it go and resist the criticism he so richly deserves?

    I don’t care for Trump either but it is what it is and not damn thing any of us can do about it until the elections in 2020. When his harshest critic and media enemy from CNN actually praised Trump for his speech and actions at the service today, what can either one of you add? I would have been just as offended if Hillary Clinton had been elected and at the 75th anniversary as the POTUS but I damn sure wouldn’t have posted anything about it out of respect for the reason for the event, the men who died 75 years ago.

    The never ending hatred spewed by bud about Bush has finally reached my limits of tolerance and the uncalled for attack on Trump on this historic day by Brad and bud pushed it over the edge. If you cannot avoid the rancor, anger, and vitriol toward Trump and Bush on June 6th, then as far as I can see it, the boundaries have been breached and there is no going back. I may not like Trump but I damn sure won’t insult the memory of the ones who gave their lives that we should be honoring by going after any POTUS, present or past.

    This is my last post. I have other pressing matters to attend to that have a direct impact on my life. In other words, neither one of you are worth the time to read your insensitive posts on a day when we should honor the sacrifices of the 4,000 plus men who died on the Normandy beaches.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m sorry you feel that way, Bart. And I hope you change your mind and come back.

      There’s nothing I can say to you to change your mind right now, I know. My experiences with Doug, who thinks I do nothing but attack Trump on this blog (even though most days are spent completely ignoring him), have convinced me of that. If you have the impression you have, then you have it.

      This post has been building all week, as this person has heaped one indignity after another on the presidency, on this country, and on our chief ally. It has been gross. And knowing this deeply solemn occasion was coming has made it worse. This is not about “not caring for” someone. This is about repeated, daily insult to our country.

      I think if you take a moment and look at what I’ve written over time, you’ll see — including in this post — my profound, abiding reverence for what Americans gave on that beach. I’ve gone into it in detail, year after year after year.

      And I’m very sorry if it’s not crystal-clear that my disgust with this disgrace in the White House is intensified a thousandfold by having him be the head of our delegation to this hallowed commemoration. If I were not appalled at that, it would only be because I have lost the capacity for being appalled. My deep respect for what our country, and individual Americans (and Brits, and Canadians, and the French and our other allies) did there is one side of the same coin as my distress at having Trump have anything to do with it.

      Again, I’m sorry to have upset you, and even sorrier that I apparently have not expressed what I’m saying clearly enough….

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, by the way, I’m having second thoughts about this passage:

    “I remain too ignorant of the titanic struggles on the Eastern Front to be able to peg that with confidence”

    .. after having read this, from the OFFICIAL account of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

    1. Bill

      The 8th Symphony by Shostakovich is often referred to as “The Stalingrad”,and it was banned because of its sad,tragic nature.The Soviets had already done the hard work for us,and both Roosevelt and Churchill saw it as the true turning point of the war…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Other legitimate “turning points” in WWII:

        1. The Battle of Britain. If the Germans had been able to secure air supremacy over the Channel, they could have attempted an invasion of England and possibly knocked England out of the war. As it turned out, they lost the air battle and had to scrap Operation Sea Lion.

        2. Pearl Harbor. The Japanese decision to attack the American fleet brought the US into the war with such a fury that nothing short of an unconditional surrender from Japan was going to satisfy the US. It also brought us into the European theater in earnest when Germany declared war on the US. Without the US men and material, there is no D-Day.

        Sure, Stalingrad was a big defeat for Germany. They lost their entire Sixth Army Group, and it shattered the myth of the German army’s invincibility (Much like Midway shattered the image of an unstoppable Imperial Japanese Navy), Stalingrad was certainly the turning point on the Eastern front. Also, the Soviets weren’t doing it all alone. The Lend-Lease Act had the US and other allies supplying the Soviets with war material.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Another “turning point” (sort of in line with Stalingrad) was Germany’s decision to invade Russia. Had Germany let Russia alone, the war would have looked very different.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Our enemies did a lot to defeat themselves, as you suggest:

            • Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto knew better; he knew Americans. What I don’t have a good feel for is just how many options the Japanese had, aside from giving up their plans for domination. I don’t have a good feel for how much harm our boycotts were doing them, or how desperate that situation was. I have read about Japanese cars running on charcoal for lack of oil. If Burl were still with us, he could enlighten us on this point. He knew the Pacific war, and what went on BEFORE the Pacific war. By the way, I still have a copy somewhere of Burl’s alternative-history novel, Black Ocean. The one he sent me and got me to read without telling me HE wrote it. The premise: The Americans attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, as the Japanese held sway over Hawaii. Only Burl would have known enough Pacific history to make that happen…
            • Hitler declaring war on US, right after Pearl Harbor. What a gift! Think how hard it would have been for FDR to sell the war in Europe (and especially the Germany-first strategy) without that.
            • Operation Barbarossa. On the one hand, the stupidity of double-crossing the Russians staggers the mind. On the other hand, if the Nazis hadn’t gone after the Slavic Untermenschen, they wouldn’t have been Nazis. As a result, if I remember correctly, the tide was already turning in the East by the time of Pearl Harbor. Imagine that: The U.S. and the Brits having to fight against everything the Germans had. Could we have won?

            Seems like I was thinking of another one, but it’s slipped my mind…

          2. Bill

            Right,and that takes us back(musically) to Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony,”The Leningrad”,which most agree was written about the invasion and it was met with far greater acclaim.The symphony was seen as a bringing together of the Allies;Shostakovich got the cover of TIME,and was later a delegate to The Waldorf Conference…

    2. Bryan Caskey

      Someone should ask the Russian Ministry what contributions the Russians made to end WWII between 1939 and 1941.

  4. Mark Stewart

    I’m sorry Bart feels that way. It’s a complicated situation, that’s for sure.

    That said, I just saw what Trump said about domestic politics in front of those militarily straight rows of endless gravemarkers. I was disturbed. I believe everyone should be; this is not like “W” derangement syndrome. This is real. Trump is not mentally sound. Politics have nothing to do with that conclusion.

    I have never, ever seen a politician malign the military and service-members the way Trump does. That’s a bottom line – regardless of one prewritten speech.

      1. Mark Stewart

        His FOX News interview in the Normandy cemetery which took place before the speech in front of our honored WWII veterans was the zinger. I’m still stunned by his sociopathic lack of empathy and of decorum. This should be an image that rattles every American to their core.

      2. Scout

        I hope Bart comes back too.

        But I think he is mistaken to compare Trump’s appearance here to Hillary Clinton or Bush. No matter how you feel about either of them politically, it would be disingenuous to not acknowledge that either of them would have and would have shown genuine respect for the veterans and for the moment, without lapsing into the immature self absorbed pettiness that Trump did. So there’d be no need for Bart to say anything about Hillary Clinton, had she been there, because she would have respected the moment.

        Trump didn’t. So what if CNN said nice things about his teleprompter moment.

        He ruined all that by being himself before and after, as you both have pointed out. Bush and Clinton have more decency in a single strand of their hair than this man.

      3. bud

        Pelosi just did the minimum necessary at that moment. But at least she did that. Seems like the bar is getting lower all the time.

  5. Mr. Smith

    Several years ago I went with my kids to visit Utah and Omaha Beaches, as well as Juno. We also visited the German battlefield cemetery at La Cambe. The contrast was striking. The Omaha memorial cemetery was full of people. But save for a couple of caretakers, the German cemetery was deserted. Standing there I said to my kids: At least the guys at Omaha died for something. The ones here died for absolutely nothing.

  6. bud

    Perhaps a straight post about the valor and contribution of the fallen allied sailors and soldiers would have been best for June 6. Sometimes ignoring Trump is the best course.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I do that every year.

      I did it this year.

      But the rest of what I said needed to be said.

      Once more, it is BECAUSE of my profound respect for what happened there 75 years ago that I felt compelled to say it. Trump’s presence was an insult to honor…


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