D-Day and the Vietnam War

d dayToday, June 6, 2014, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the invasion of northern France by the Allied Forces, which took place through beach landings in Normandy. We remember the bravery and personal sacrifice of the soldiers that took part in this campaign. We honor the veterans of World War II.

We also mourn the sacrifice that took place on D-Day 1944, when thousands of people lost their lives in a single day. When we ponder the ravages of war, a question must be posed: what if World War II could have been prevented? What if Germany had never been destroyed? I believe humankind did indeed have a chance to prevent the ravages of World War II. This view is shared by none other than Sir Winston Churchill.

Barely two years after the D-Day campaign, Churchill stood in front of Pres. Harry S. Truman and an American audience at Westminster College in the Missouri town of Fulton and decried the unnecessary loss of life and treasure and the destruction of Germany as a result of World War II. None of that was necessary, Churchill said, if only people had acted in time. Church said verbatim:

Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe… We surely must not let that happen again.

That message was passed on from Pres. Truman to Pres. Eisenhower and then to Pres. Kennedy: “We surely must not let that happen again.” When the time came for the United States to act to prevent another war, namely, around 1963, the US did not flinch in sending its young people into the jaws of the beast. Thus, we had the Vietnam War.

The US, together with its allies, put into practice the advice given by Sir Winston Churchill: “We surely must not let that happen again.” They confronted Communism head on and early on. As a result, a decade later the whole Communist world came tumbling down.

What the Vietnam War prevented was of such proportion that it would dwarf D-Day and World War II. It is true that World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. But even the horror of World War II would pale in comparison with the cataclysm prevented by the Vietnam War. The war that never happened was a nuclear war, which had the potential to kill in a few days what World War II had killed in years.

The cost of the Vietnam War was minuscule in terms of blood and treasure, if we consider World War II, and the significance of the Vietnam War must be compared with the costs of the war that never was, namely, the nuclear war that was prevented. We can say, this was one time in American history in which timely action prevented much greater horror.

I am grateful, therefore, that the US and its allies were willing to make the sacrifices in terms of money and loss of life during the Vietnam War. I believe the sacrifice made by the US and its allies was the “stitch in time” that saved nine. Because the US was willing to sacrifice its young people and its financial resources at that time, the world has so far been spared of the horrors of a nuclear war.

Today, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I mourn the ravages of World War II and I rejoice for the peace that we have so far enjoyed in the world as a result of the Vietnam War.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
First Lieutenant, US Army
Vietnam War Veteran
June 5, 2014
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

 

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2 comments on “D-Day and the Vietnam War

  1. Dogman
    June 10, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Nicely put Paulo. In retrospect I’m, not sure China and the Soviets were willing to escalate the Vietnam war to a nuclear conclusion.

    Also if President Kennedy had been successful with the Bay of Pigs FUBAR just his threat of our involvement may have enough for Min to pull back his thrust to the south.

    Dogman

    • Paulo-Juarez Pereira
      June 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

      Dogman,

      Yes, that would be a difficult point to argue, because we are dealing with things that could but did not happen. For example, if Hitler had been stopped at the very inception, it would be very hard to argue that he would have gone on to exterminate Jews or that he would have gone on to invade Russia. “Really?! Invade Russia?! After what happened to Napoleon?! Very unlikely!”

      So, when one argues about something that did not happen, one is grasping for straws. On the other hand, no one could believe either that some 19 dudes from the Middle East could have destroyed the World Trade Center.

      I like your point about JFK and the Bay of Pigs. Plus, let’s not forget that JFK made Khrushchev pull back the missiles from Cuba.

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