Sunday, June 6, 2010

The pivot day of history

By Donald Sensing

The alternate history of June 6, 1944 is too terrible to contemplate

There are few days in history that continue to capture the imagination and fascination of Americans the way June 6, 1944 does. Perhaps the day's only close rival is the day President Kennedy was shot.

There is an old preacher story, so old it is a cliche of bad sermons now, that goes like this: An angel awoke who had slept through the first two centuries after Jesus had gone down to earth and ascended back to heaven. The angel went to the Lord and asked, “Where did you go?”

Jesus replied, “I've been down on earth.”

The angel asked, "How did it go?"

Jesus said, "They crucified me."

The angel protested, "You must have had a wide influence."

Jesus said, "I had twelve followers, and one betrayed me to my death."

The angel asked, "What will become of your work?"

Jesus said, "I left it in the hands of my friends."

"And if they fail?" asked the angel.

Jesus said, "I have no other plans."

That punchline, I think, is why D-Day remains so compelling. The specter of defeat on June 6, 1944 was overwhelmingly dreadful. The Allies had no other plans. There was no Plan B in case the landings were repulsed.

There are many "pivot" days in human history, when the course of human events swung in a new direction because of discrete actions. It is hard to find another moment in all history when so much rested on an outcome of one day as rested on the success of the Allies' landings on Normandy.

Read the entire post here.

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