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Local opinion columnists

Reflections on D-Day, Sgt. Bergdahl

By From page A11 | June 06, 2014

Utah. Omaha. Gold. Juno. Sword. Do those names mean anything to you?

It’s the anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Those of us of an older generation – I never thought I’d be thinking of myself as “older” – grew up knowing, reading, hearing, talking about the Normandy invasion; we didn’t need any reminders.

The obligation our generation has on June 6 is not to sound holier than thou, or worse, more patriotic, but to at least think about what Normandy meant exactly 70 years ago.

It’s hard not to contrast and compare, as they used to instruct us in high school, what American, British and Commonwealth soldiers went through on that day, with few or no reports of desertion, and today’s headlines about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

First of all, I don’t know what this man was even doing wearing an American uniform. I say that because, within hours of the story breaking, the media had learned a ton of information about Bowe and his father. Was there no background check done when the younger Bergdahl enlisted? How is it that his squadmates were all aware of his attitude toward not only the Army, but the United States as well?

Now, I don’t want to make a judgment about the senior Bergdahl just because of the squirrels’ nest growing on his chin, but his politics were no secret, either. So we have junior’s extreme hostility toward both America and the military and his father’s reciting a response, or whatever, in the Pashtun language while standing next to the president of the United States.

As an aside, did you notice how gentlemanly our president was as he escorted Mrs. Bergdahl with his arm around her waist all the way from the White House exit door to the microphones in the Rose Garden?

More seriously, the question arises – I suppose because I’ve always had my doubts about his philosophy – whether the praise given by the president to Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents was based on a sympathy for his views. Or perhaps Obama had no knowledge of everything that was immediately broadcast by the media outlets? I put this out there after about six years of laughing off all the right-wing conspiracy theories about Obama.

I guess what I’m wondering is why we’re paying so much attention to Bowe Bergdahl when our men and women in uniform are doing so much for America without drawing any attention? The fact that this is the anniversary of D-Day makes the Bergdahl story more irritating.

I could inject what I hate to call a trivia question about Normandy, but I want to be sure everyone knows what the “D” in D-Day stood for. I have to admit that I didn’t know until a few years ago, that the “D” is simply the first letter in “day.” Thus we also have H-Hour for the time that an operation begins, with the “H” just being the first letter of “hour.”

When I write, or read, or even think about World War II, I always check to see if I’m remembering the figure for American combat deaths correctly. In the period 1941 to 1945, 291,557 Americans were killed in combat. As a percentage of the population, the Civil War was the bloodiest, with 212,938 Union and Confederate soldiers dying on the battlefield.

So give a thought to all who gave their lives for our country.

Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]

Bud Stevenson

Bud Stevenson


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