The word courage has been bandied about a lot lately, most often in regards to things that don't require courage at all. A man proclaims himself as a member of a protected class, and we call it courage. A woman whines that the tax payer should cover the expense of her birth control, and we call it courage. A man mutilates his body because he is uncomfortable with who he is, and we call it courage. Have we forgotten what courage really is?
Seventy one years ago today. June 6, 1944, in the misty gray light of early morning, landing craft approached the beaches of Normandy. Boats filled with frightened young men, many of them barely more than boys.
Boys wishing they were still at home in bed. Shaking with fear. Praying. Maybe crying. Knowing that many of them would not survive the day.
And yet, when those landing craft hit the beach,
when those ramps opened,
without hesitation, they stood and charged into the hail of bullets that would claim nearly 10,000 of them before the sun set.
Seeing their friends, their brothers in arms, cut down beside them. Still they ran. Still they fought. In spite of their fear, and knowing that the fate of the entire world rested on their shoulders, they claimed that beach and began the long, slow slog across Europe that would eventually lead to Hitler's demise.
Now, that is courage.
And that is why they truly were The Greatest Generation.