June 7, 2010
If we forget what we did, we will forget who we are. So said President Reagan in his Farewell Address to the Nation in 1989. That year would see the collapse of the evil empire that Reagan fought all his adult life. When confronted by the fact that the Catholic Church would surely oppose his occupation and rule over Poland, Soviet dictator Joe Stalin had cynically asked: How many divisions has the Pope? In 1989, the world found out how many divisions the Pope had. Millions of Poles cried out We want God. Poland became the fulcrum for Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and the Polish Pope John Paul II to move the world.
The good folks in Bedford, Virginia, are trying desperately to make a go of their troubled D-Day Memorial. They have just put up a statue to Josef Stalin. They claim, defensively, that they are merely trying to complete a quartet of Second World War leaders which includes Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle.
Minus the frosty Frenchman, the Big Three did meet—at Tehran, at Yalta—to map out grand strategy for the allied victory against Hitler. The Anglo-American allies worried all the while they dealt with dictator Stalin that he might change sides once again and team up with Hitler. Stranger things had happened. It was Stalins 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, after all, that allowed Hitler to launch the Second World War just weeks after the pact signatures had dried. It was at that time that the young Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, fleeing eastward with his ailing father, would turn back to live under the Nazi occupation rather than risk life under the Soviets. Stalins NKVD henchmen captured some 22,000 Polish army officers and shot them, each one with a single bullet to the back of his skull, and buried their bodies in the Katyn Forest.
And this was just the beginning. FDRs ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies was all-out for Stalin. He even made a Hollywood propaganda movie titled Mission to Moscow. When he lived in Moscow, Davies tried to quiet his wifes concerns. Housed in their elegant embassy residence, Mrs. Davies could hear the sharp crack-crack-crack all night. Davies said it was heroic Soviet workers, using jackhammers, eager to meet their production quotas. In truth. was Stalins NKVD execution squads, working through the nights, eager to meet a different kind of quota.
We do need to remember our unholy alliance with Stalin during World War II. It was necessary for the survival of the West to make a marriage of convenience with this most brutal of dictators.
The Russian proverb says when you go to dine with the devil, make sure you take a long spoon.
Churchill carried a long spoon and, typically, said it better: If Hitler invaded hell, I would at least make favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons. When Hitler invaded Stalins empire built on bones, he did indeed invade hell.
The D-Day Memorial folks in Bedford might have remembered the wartime alliance with a photo of FDR, Churchill, and Stalin. They might even have rendered the photo as a sculpture.
But in erecting a bust of the beast, they have dishonored themselves and the United States of America.
It was President Reagan who spoke in Normandy at Pointe-du-Hoc in 1984, praising the Airborne Rangers who reclaimed a continent for freedom:
Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause.
And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what were about to do. Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgeway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: I will not fail thee or forsake thee.
Thus did Ronald Reagan teach us how to remember D-Day and the Boys of Pointe-du-Hoc. Thus he led us in holding aloft the torch of freedom.
One year ago, President Barack Obama stood at Normandy D-Day observances and, in the words of Newsweeks Evan Thomas, hovered above the nations, like a sort of God. What did Mr. Obama say there? Can even his strongest advocates recall a single line the President delivered there? Erecting a bust of Stalin in America—anywhere in America—would only be possible because we are now forgetting what we did, forgetting who we are.