Remembering D-Day: Was It All in Vain?

Can the West any longer defend itself?

Eighty years ago (on June 6), young men (some just teenagers) hit the beaches of Normandy to stop the Nazi menace. Brits, Americans, Australians, Canadians, Kiwis as well as youthful soldiers from places like France, Holland, Norway, and Poland were all involved in seeking to defeat Hitler and liberate Europe.

What Churchill said in a wartime speech delivered to the House of Commons four years earlier certainly applies to that notable day of eight decades ago:Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” There is plenty that can be said about what had transpired on that fateful day. Let me share just one quote looking at some aspects of it:

Planners had divided the landing zone into five separate beaches. The Americans landed at Utah and Omaha beaches. The British and Canadians landed at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. The fiercest fighting was on Omaha Beach where the enemy was positioned on steep cliffs that commanded the long, flat shoreline. Troops leapt from their landing boats and were pinned down for hours by murderous machine-gun fire that turned the beach into a vast killing field. “If you (stayed) there you were going to die,” Lieutenant Colonel Bill Friedman said. “We just had to . . . try to get to the bottom of the cliffs on which the Germans had mounted their defenses.” By midday, the Americans had surmounted the cliffs and taken Omaha Beach at a heavy cost: over 2,400 killed, wounded, or missing out of the total of approximately 34,000 who came ashore that day, a loss rate of more than 7 percent. By nightfall, about 160,000 Allied troops were ashore with nearly a million more men on the way that summer.

While the Allied forces did such an incredible job, showing so much bravery, courage and self-sacrifice, the question arises whether such a thing could be repeated today. Sadly, not only is there a strong anti-western sentiment among many living in the West today, but the notions of patriotism, duty, love of country, and a willingness to protect it are all fading fast.

A week ago I penned a piece asking if Australia in particular and the West in general any longer have the resolve, the moral fibre, and the necessary belief to defend themselves. I discussed how the Australian military is lowering its entrance requirements in order to get more people to join, and noted how our defence forces might now be more known for their wokeness than their military preparedness:  

As I said in that piece:

Decades of anti-Australian and anti-Western rhetoric and ideology from the media, education, most politicians, and our elites have convinced many Australians – perhaps most – that Australia is simply not worth fighting for any longer. Why bother to lift a finger in its defence? Of course other factors can be mentioned here. Not only is there a war against the West going on, but so too its very values are under assault. Old virtues like bravery, chivalry, courage and self-sacrifice are now seen as indications of toxic masculinity and must be fully rejected. The idea of a knight in shining armour is now seen as taboo.

And then today I spotted a similar worrying headline at the Herald Sun site: “Foreign Legion: ADF to recruit new soldiers from overseas.” It has this opening line: “The Albanese government is changing the rules to allow foreign citizens from overseas to join the Australian Defence Force in a bid to tackle a recruitment crisis. See who can join up.”

It is behind a paywall, but I instantly thought, ‘What could go wrong here?’ Will Communist Chinese or North Koreans be allowed to join? Will devout political Islamists from Muslim majority nations be able to sign up? Will those who clearly are not a fan of Australia be given a free pass?

And I am not alone in asking questions about Australia’s military preparedness. A few days ago a sobering piece appeared in the Australian by Andrew Hastie. He is the federal opposition defence spokesman and is a former member of the Special Air Service Regiment who has served in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.

His article is titled, “Will We Ever Learn that the Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance” with this subtitle: “War in the next decade is possible. We are not prepared.” He begins by looking at some lessons of history. The second half of his article goes like this:

Submarines, battleships, missiles, drones, tanks and cyber are important. And there must be a national defence strategy that is adequately funded. But we must go deeper than this. We must ask if our minds are ready for the shock of war.


Let me share two pressing threats we face, and how the lessons of Henry’s two speeches can prepare us. First, the recruiting and retention crisis in the Australian Defence Force. The ADF is 5000 people understrength, and that number will deteriorate if the recruiting and retention trendline continues.


Our inaugural joint selection for the SAS and Commandos did not draw enough candidates to sustain our existing special operations units. That’s before we meet the massive demand we face for submariners if we are to crew our Virginia-class submarines. We need to address this – urgently.


To see more men and women deployed, we must deploy the psychological insights of Henry’s first speech. The insights seen in the St Crispin’s Day oration are enduring, and the ADF needs to mount a sustained recruiting campaign around the tested values of service, duty and country.


Australians have a deep history of citizen soldiering, built on reserve units with strong local identities. This local connection to home and place must be leveraged. Young people are desperate for meaning and purpose beyond their own self-interest. But we are only touching the surface.


Second, and more important, there is a deeper crisis of values within our education system. We have allowed a culture of relativism to sweep through our schools and universities, denuding us of the essential values that will sustain us during times of trial. The ramshackle protests show we have lost a sense of who we are.


CS Lewis – Oxford professor, war veteran and storyteller – identified this same crisis during World War II. At the University of Durham in 1943, he lamented the subtle yet pervasive attack on objective values in favour of a world view based on subjective feeling.


“In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment,” Lewis wrote. “The crudest sentimentalism … about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use.”


Britain was fighting for its life, and Lewis saw education as a key battleground. His language is the same language that Henry used at Harfleur. There comes a time for blunt words, where we are clear about what side we’re on, and it’s time the academy showed that clarity.


For Australia, in 2024, education is a key battleground. The university camps of students hostile to Israel and the Jewish people, chanting violent slogans such as “from the river to the sea” – oblivious to the fact this means wiping out the people we fought to save in World War II – indicates there is something deeply unwell in our education system.


If we are to prevail in the next conflict – if we are to ready our minds – we must focus on reviving the best elements of classical learning and build young Australians who share a love of country, service and each other.


War in the next decade is possible. Without a belief in something other than self-interest or gratification, we won’t defy anyone but ourselves. We won’t defend anything but our own subjective reality. We will lose the fight in the mind before the first shot is even fired.

Yes, that is my fear as well. Decades of anti-Western indoctrination, political correctness, and woke ideology have left us quite unprepared for war, and quite unwilling to fight for anything. Too many folks would rather just put up the white flag of surrender than stand and fight for anything – including one’s own country.

But of course the nations I mentioned earlier – China, North Korea, most Muslim countries, among others – do not think this way at all. They are not only ready to fight for what they believe in, they are willing to make great sacrifices in doing so. It seems incredibly unlikely that a nation like Australia could stand and resist for very long in those circumstances.

My huge worry is that all those many young lives that were lost those decades ago may have died in vain. If America and Australia and England are no longer worth defending, then the freedoms those brave men fought for last century may soon come to an end.

What Abraham Lincoln said long ago seems far too true of far too many Western nations: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” We are certainly witnessing that in Australia as well.

Heaven help the West.

[1529 words]

8 Replies to “Remembering D-Day: Was It All in Vain?”

  1. “Including our own country”? To whom belongs Australia? We are now a divided Nation at best. It is separated into 6 parts at least being Europeans, Aboriginal, Muslim, Chinese, Liberal and Labor and off course – the queer community or so called. So, as a young man, whom am I fighting for or what am I fighting to preserve? I note that marriage means little and the family unit even less. I ask: why are we murdering tens of thousands of Australians each year that are not even born? Would I be fighting to preserve Australian values? I ask: What exactly are they? I also note that over 60% of Australia has a new sovereign – Indigenous/Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders who claim that I should be ashamed of myself for stealing their land and their children while Prime Ministers give credence to that claim by officially apologising on my behalf. Australia used to be a mate-ship and now it has evolved into every man for himself. Why would I fight to preserve these values of which my father and grandfather fought to destroy?
    John Abbott

  2. Thanks John. Obviously the values I am wanting to see defended and championed are those that the great majority of Australians up until just recently fully believed in. Things like faith, family and freedom. Things like democracy, rule of law and open debate. It is not the recent woke values of the noisy minority that I want to see affirmed.

  3. Bill, you are echoing may peoples thoughts in this piece, I have been discussing the issue of our military possibly recruiting foreigners with my son who has an interest in pursuing a military career. He rightly pointed out the very same issues with such a policy as have you in this article.

    I think John’s comments above may very well be the thoughts that many in military service would have at present given the current social climate with the wokes and others. Our current PM would have to be the worst Australia has ever had in my opinion, his portfolio appears to be to divide the nation and waste taxpayer funds. He does not show any signs of improving at present or the near future as can be attested to by his refusal to acknowledge the majority vote following the disastrous voice debacle. I feel that until we have real change at the helm, we will continue down this slippery slop to the detriment of future ‘Australian’ generations

  4. The communist and their ilk predicted this that they would win the west without having to fire a shot. Thanks to the past 150 years of their followers in action they have done that. But if the west is rejecting God he will have his witnesses elsewhere. The east the south.

    If the west wants to commit cultural suicide and go into the darkest of ages … well all good things must come to an end.

  5. Hi Bill
    Yes. The West is indeed in a very deep crisis; and Australia in particular. What is particularly sharp in my own mind is what this crisis means for the church. In the order of ninety-five percent of the church is asleep to this issue you raise and similar threats. I am convinced that far too many Australian Christians are far to in love with this present world. They cannot believe that their beloved institutions of media and other structures have been infected by so much vicious propaganda as our present culture shows. This is an unbelievably great travesty. Can we wake them up? Will God wake them up?
    The Covid lies personally woke me up to the larger dimension of the range of other sexual, social, educational, political and ideological lies – many of which you have been writing about for the past forty years. These have been promoted within our community, and have taken significant ground over the past sixty years.
    I am now an old man. You write to awaken many. I seek to do what I can, for the sake of my children and grandchildren and their many friends. While there is a place for speaking truth in secular terms, increasingly, I am feeling the need to challenge the complacency of some friends and family. Too many are asleep and not ready for the various troubles which are surely coming our way; as you say: “Can the west any longer defend itself?”
    I take great comfort from the prophet Jeremiah. There are troubles which are coming, which like for Jeremiah, the LORD is bringing. There are other troubles which will come, by which some true Christian believers among us; may with God’s help; be empowered to win significant victories.
    Thank you once again for your articles.

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