D-Day, 70 years later

By Jayson Jacoby / The Baker City Herald

June 6, 1944, was a terrible day.

But at least Americans had the meager solace of understanding exactly why 2,500 of their soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen died while taking the first step toward liberating France from the Nazis.

It was an awful sacrifice, but a necessary one.

Today, 70 years later, we not only honor those who fought, and those who died, on the beaches of Normandy.

We also reflect on how vastly different the perceptions, and the realities, of America's military endeavors are now.

The current controversy surrounding President Obama's decision to secure the freedom of American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl by releasing five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay illustrates the ambiguity that distinguishes America's War on Terror.

There are it seems more questions than answers.

Was Bergdahl an innocent victim, or was he so ashamed of his country and its military that he left his post with the intention of being taken prisoner and, potentially, becoming a political pawn?

Was Obama's circumvention of the law requiring him to notify Congress at least 30 days before the hostage exchange necessary because the deal was tenuous, or was his a calculated decision designed to score political points regardless of the danger those five terrorists pose to innocent people?

In June 1944 Americans were united in a way perhaps not replicated until September 2001. The fight to thwart Hitler's genocidal rampage was as righteous as it was dangerous.

It was, in author Studs Terkel's famous phrase (and book title), the "Good War."

Today, by contrast, we pontificate about Bowe Bergdahl's father's beard, and his speaking in Arabic and Pashto while standing beside Obama at the White House.

There is, to be sure, some consolation here. The Bergdahl affair is frustrating because it seems to have so little to do with why we're fighting.

But the death toll, at least, is much smaller.

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