In a Facebook Live video interview with CNSNews.com’s Editor-in-Chief Terence P. Jeffrey today on the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II, retired Lieutenant Colonel Allen West asked, “Are we really reflecting back and earning and remembering the sacrifices that these men made?”
“What happens the day after [D-Day or Memorial Day]?” asked retired LTC Allen West. “Are we really reflecting back and earning and remembering the sacrifices that these men made? I mean, World War II was a time when these guys, 15- and 16-year-olds, were lying about their age so that they could go fight for their country. But now, when we fast forward to where we are today, you know, we have young men that are stressing out about, you know, the battery level in their iPads or iPhones. I mean, could they really come off of those landing craft today on a beachhead like Normandy?”
In the interview with CNSNews.com’s Terence Jeffrey, retired LTC Allen West’s remarks reflect on D-Day and the recent Memorial Day column that he wrote for CNSNews.com titled “Allen West: Are We Truly Earning the Sacrifice of Those Who Have Gone Before Us?” The piece asks the reader, “[W]hat shall we do for the next 364 days until the next Memorial Day?” and commands to the reader – as Tom Hank’s character Captain Miller in the film “Saving Private Ryan” does to Private Ryan – “earn this.”
Below is a transcript, in pertinent part, of LTC Allen West’s comments in his interview with CNSNews.com:
CNSNews.com Editor-in-Chief Terence P. Jeffrey: “In one of your recent columns at Memorial Day, you wrote about the movie “Saving Private Ryan.”
LTC Allen West, Ret.: “Yes.”
Jeffrey: “Let me read you something that you wrote.
“‘Trekking through enemy held territory, Captain Miller and his group of Rangers, who had suffered two losses, finally find young Private Ryan. Ryan would rather stay with his infantry squad, while the Germans are about to mount a counterattack to seize a key bridge crossing. Only Miller’s few and Ryan’s depleted squad stand in their way – and they make a stand.
“‘In what I consider to be the true meaning behind the movie, and the words that remained in Ryan’s mind throughout his life, there is a short exchange between a dying Captain Miller and Private Ryan. He brings him close, and with his final breath, he whispers to Ryan, “Earn this.”
LTC West, Ret.: “Yeah.”
Jeffrey: “Tell me about what that means. What would you say?”
LTC West, Ret.: “Well, it was interesting because, when you fast forwarded to the older Ryan standing before Captain Miller’s final resting spot there at Normandy, he turned to his wife and he said, ‘Tell me that I was a good man. Tell me that I lived a good life.’ Because the sacrifices that Captain Miller and his Rangers and that squad has made to save Private Ryan, that’s what it was about – ‘earning this.’ Go out and live a good life so that the sacrifices would not be in vain.
“And again, that’s what Abrahama Lincoln talked about at the Gettysburg Adress in those 273 words when he talked about our increased devotion to those who made the last full measure of devotion so that their sacrifices shall not be in vain.
“I think too often— I mean, here we are here on D-Day, and of course, Memorial Day, but the important thing, as I wrote in that piece is: what happens the day after? I mean, are we really reflecting back and earning and remembering the sacrifices that these men made? I mean, World War II was a time when these guys, 15- and 16-year-olds, were lying about their age so that they could go fight for their country. But now, when we fast forward to where we are today, you know, we have young men that are stressing out about, you know, the battery level in their iPads or iPhones. I mean, could they really come off of those landing craft today on a beachhead like Normandy?
Jeffrey: “You made a very powerful point in that column, you know, from the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” that he remembered his entire life what that dying colleague said to him in combat – and Abraham Lincoln. So, I mean, isn’t it true that what Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg about those soldiers who died there that Americans to this day owe a debt in the freedom that we experience in this country today to those soldiers that died more than a century ago?”
LTC West, Ret.: “Well, absolutely. Absolutely, I think that when people go out and they say, ‘Thank you for [their] service,’ or ‘Thank you for your service,’ what they really should reflect upon is, ‘Am I earning the service and commitment and the sacrifice?’ even to those of us that, you know, have continued to walk on this side of the grass. That’s the important thing. That’s how we continue to have this constitutional republic. If we don’t honor that sacrifice of the men and women who have gone before us, if it’s forgotten, then we will not have this great nation.”