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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of the editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. [go to Liebau index]

Our Choices Shape Our Destiny
The Lessons of the WWII Monument
[Carol Platt Liebau] 5/31/04

The cloudless sky, bright sunshine, and reports of balmy 71-degree weather seemed to suggest that God himself was smiling on the dedication of the World War II monument last Saturday. The scene was moving; 150,000 people – members of the Greatest Generation, their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren – congregated on the Mall to witness the memorial’s official commemoration.

The event’s timing couldn’t have been better. Making a few remarks after accepting the monument on behalf of the American people, the President was able to offer an important reminder: There were numerous points during World War II when victory was by no means assured. Now, in the safe distance that the passage of time provides, our triumph over the evils of totalitarianism and fascism seems nearly inevitable. But as the President reminded us, we, as a country, are the ones who made the sacrifices and the choices that, along with God’s grace, allowed the Allies to prevail.

Today, we fight a very different war and the theatre of operations is very different, but the enemies are still the same. They are hatred, totalitarianism (then, fascism, now Islamofascism) – and the weakness and the cowardice that would have the United States seek common ground with implacable evil. Once again, victory is not preordained . . . it will be a product of our own willingness to sacrifice, and our own choices.

The memorial is not, as John Kerry claimed in a weekend radio address, primarily a reminder of the importance of alliances. Looking at the monument does not call to mind the centrality of France, for example, to the war effort. Though memorial is indeed humbling, it is in a different way. It is profoundly moving to realize that each of the 400 stars represents 100 Americans who were willing to leave their homes and all they knew to fight bloody battles in distant lands so that justice might triumph and so that they and their fellow men could live in freedom.

Each generation faces a moment of decision that in some way resembles the one that confronted the World War II generation. Each generation must decide whether the evil of its own times can be ignored and accommodated – or whether it must be battled with the inevitable accompaniments of tears, sweat and blood. And each generation must pay a price for its decision, whatever it is; today, the casualties of the Iraq War would count as 8 of the 400 stars on the memorial’s war. That’s eight too many, to be sure, but what price will be necessary later if we fail to summon the will to move forward now?

Yes, our choices today will shape our destiny in years to come, just as the courage of the World War II soldiers ultimately reshaped the world. The new World War II monument has indeed been dedicated, but as Abraham Lincoln noted at Gettysburg, the deeds of the Greatest Generation have consecrated the monument in a way that no ceremony ever could match.

May the monument long stand to remind us all of freedom’s price and the sacrifices that have secured it; may it likewise redouble our commitment to meet our generation’s challenges head-on, resolute in the knowledge that the power once again to secure our liberty, for ourselves and our children, rests nowhere but in our own hands and, most certainly, in God’s. CRO

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and editorial director based in San Marino, CA.

copyright 2004


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