On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 allied troops crossed the English Channel and stormed the shores of Normandy to begin the drive to push the Nazis out of France and into disgraced history.
It was a day of horror and destruction. It was a time for courage and for heroes. It was a day that changed the world.
Too bad that remembrance of that day is tainted today by a fight with our neighbor to the north with whom the United States shares the longest, most-peaceful international border in the world.
The U.S. government is imposing tariffs of 25 percent on imported Canadian steel products and 10 percent on Canadian aluminum. The official reason? Canada poses a “national security” threat to the U.S.
Let’s turn back the clock exactly 74 years. American forces were landing on Omaha and Utah beaches heavily fortified by entrenched Nazi-led troops. British forces were splashing through the North Atlantic to Gold and Sword beaches. Canadian invasion forces were carving out a foothold on Juno Beach.
As the U.S. tariffs take hold, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has established a political beachhead of his own as his nation prepares to install retaliatory tariffs against an ally.
Let Trudeau speak for himself, as he explains his country’s position, noting that “our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II and the mountains of Afghanistan, and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow — this is insulting to them.” He expressed dismay at “the idea that the Canadian steel that’s in military — military — vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your, your fighter jets, is somehow now a threat.”
Again, look back in time 74 years and consider these words, the order of the day delivered by Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of Allied forces in Western Europe.
“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
“But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.
“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
What happened to great and noble undertakings? When did Canada become the enemy? When the history of 21st century economic warfare that divides allies is written, who will be blamed for firing the first shot?
It won’t take an eminent historian of renown to figure that one out.