Denne Punditokrat er en gammel sentimentalist, og jeg kan godt lide mindedage–mestendels de glade og symbolsk højstemte. Jeg bliver glad, når de markeres, og ærgerlig når de glemmes–og forbandet på mig selv, når jeg f.eks. glemmer at tænde lys i vinduet 4. maj.
I den forbindelse tænkte jeg i dag en del over, at jeg (der i disse dage befinder mig i smukke Cambridge) reelt havde overset, at det i går var Grundlovsdag derhjemme i Danmark. Men så blev jeg mindet om, at i dag sådan set også er en anden, værdig mindedag: D-Dag. Det er i dag 63 år siden, at De Allierede gik i land i Normandiet, og i det store billede er det en af de dage, der klart må regnes som ikke bare en af de vigtigste i det 20. århundrede men en af de afgørende i frihedens historie.
Men det betyder også, at det i dag er 23 år siden, at præsident Ronald W. Reagan holdt en af sine bedste taler. Måske ikke den mest ideologiske, men klart en af de smukkeste, mest sentimentale (i ordets bedste betydning) og mest velskrevne–og selvfølgelig skrevet af Peggy Noonan. Talen, kendt som “The Boys from Pointe du Hoc”, blev holdt foran rækker med overlevende “Rangers” fra D-Dag, og den findes hér på audio (under datoen June 6, 1984) og hér som tekst. Her er et par uddrag:
“We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
… The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
… [But not] all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.
… Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for.”