MCCULLOUGH: Americans should be ashamed of letting liberties be taken

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

It's dawn, June 6, 1944. You're a U.S. soldier bouncing across the English Channel in a Higgins boat, your stomach in your throat from seasickness and your heart about to explode in your chest.

You're still a teenager, but a grown man by war standards. For 18 years, you'd never been more than a few miles from home. Now, you're an ocean away, but you're on no pleasure cruise.

You can already hear the shelling and the shooting. Machine-gun fire zings over your head and whaps into the hull. Then the boat hits the beach, the front door drops and you're in a slaughterhouse.

Men try to get off the boat. Most of them don't make it, but somehow, death misses you.

Miraculously, you make it to the beach, bewildered and scared. Bullets, mortar rounds and artillery fire -- it's all coming at you from just about every direction. In fact, it's been planned that way by the enemy, multiple crossfires to increase the efficiency of killing.

Someone -- a sergeant, a lieutenant, maybe just another private like you -- tells you to follow him. You do, and you make it off the beach.

You see more pain, blood and death in your first five minutes in France than you could have ever imagined. Guys you were playing poker with or sharing a cigarette with yesterday are now bleeding, in pieces, face down in the sand or floating in the channel, all of their tomorrows sacrificed, to paraphrase the old quote.

But you -- you make it. You make it off the beach and through the flooded ditches, the tank traps, the hedgerows. As the days pass, you make it through one French town and then another. Then you're in Belgium, maybe Germany. Hungry, cold, low on ammo and morale, and everything around you exploding, all while hip deep in snow, the winter there is so cold and miserable you think hell couldn't be half as bad.

But you make it through that, too. You make it all the way to Berlin, and then suddenly no one is shooting at you anymore.

Most of your friends are wounded or dead. You've seen things those who weren't with you will never understand. Pictures will never do it justice. You can't smell it in a picture. Taste it in your mouth. Feel the blood in your boots or the soot on your face. The smell of death in your clothes.

Afterward, you go home. You spend the next 50 or so years working hard, raising a family and trying to silence the demons, the nightmares, the echoes of that terrible year spent in Europe, echoes that even 70 years later never seem to quite go away.

Then one morning you wake up and you're nearly 90 years old. Most of the guys who survived the war with you are gone now, and more are going every day.

You pick up your newspaper on a Thursday, 69 years to the day that you jumped off a boat and into the maw of the Nazi war machine to try to save the world from tyranny. And what do you see?

Your own government spies on you. It uses the power of its various agencies to intimidate people. It tries to silence the free press. And all the while it grins and says, "Don't worry, it's for your own good. We're here to protect you. We've been doing this a long time. Just leave your security to us."

But they don't get it. You took the burden of protecting America -- and more importantly, liberty -- on your shoulders way before these criminals did with their fancy computers, high-tech gadgets and secret courts.

And you think to yourself: The man we beat did this kind of stuff, not us. Hitler suspended civil liberties, made his own laws, seized power under a veil of lies, sacrificed the principles of freedom in the name of a maniacal lust for power. We don't do that here.

But the more you read, the more you realize that yeah, we do.

What's worse: The outrage is missing, the response tepid. No one is marching on Washington. Why aren't people pulling the Constitution from underneath the government's boot heel?

You think of the near-endless field of grave markers at Normandy, at Arlington, at battlefields across the globe, of your buddies who were disfigured and maimed, and the lifetime of bad memories. A tear drops on the paper, and again you wonder.

Does this generation of Americans have any idea what was re-given to them? Any idea of the sacrifices it took to live in a free country? Of what a crime it is to have their rights taken away? And sadly, you know the answer is no. They get more upset if the Internet goes out for a few minutes. They don't know how ashamed they should be that they allowed their own government to take from them what you fought so hard to protect.

You shed another tear, and then you straighten yourself and hold your head high. Because at least you have your dignity. You have nothing for which to be ashamed. You, at least, did what was right and honorable.

Even if your country didn't.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.


JV 2 years, 4 months ago

Just the changing demographics of the U.S. Just a fact of life. And death. And politics.



R 2 years, 4 months ago

Interesting read…

Some may be tired of all the feigned OUTRAGE! from all directions on just about everything. So as most decry the loss of our freedoms the Senate slides SB 744 right under the radar. Follow the magician’s hands.

"Don't worry, it's for your own good. We're here to protect you. We've been doing this a long time. Just leave your security to us."

This is the stand of those who support SB 744, the grand Immigration reform bill that opens the doors wider, but does NOT address the simplest thing - making illegal entry into the land these guys all died for on foreign soil a FELONY. Its currently considered a misdemeanor by some

This bill does nothing to secure us, but it dopes pay lip service to the concept while they will take your cell records and set up triggers…

So let’s take action now – even a phone call. Gee to you think they would have “phoned it in” on D-Day if they could have?


Ask them why this way?

Just gently remind them that the call is be logged then TRUST, but verify EVERYTHING you’re told.


keleko 2 years, 4 months ago

Nice story. However, you left a couple of things out.

While you're fighting in Europe you receive letters from home. They've been opened already because your government is opening them and reading them to make sure no secrets are being given away. The letters you send back home are censored as well for the same reason. You're ok with this because they are doing it to protect you and your country. After all, it is only a little liberty lost in exchange for your safety. No is upset about it.

One of the letters tells you that the Takei family from down the street, the one with the little boy named George, were taken off to one of the Japanese camps. You understand the need because they look like the enemy and could be spies. It's just a precaution. It's better that they lose their freedom to keep our country safe during the war. No one is upset about it.

To me these sound worse than what I'm hearing about what's happening today. They were "for your own good". So, 1944 wasn't a paradise of liberty, either.


Scaper99 2 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps one of the best editorial pieces I've read in a long time. Just wish this was posted in every newspaper / internet source in the country and spur a nationwide response on Washington and our "leaders".


notblind 2 years, 4 months ago

Politicians have to be more crafty in today's age. America is too big for a relatively quick coup and the internet makes it impossible to hide facts for very long. The political and monetary elites have refined the 'divide and conquer' strategy to a fine art. Nate illustrated it perfectly a few weeks back with his estate auction column. Remember the derogatory "...pickup trucks..." and "...guns...." comments ? ...................................................................The baby boomers have never come to grips with the fact that the election process has been turned upside down due to manipulation of the elites................................................................................................... As for the boomers' descendents, just scroll down and read O'Reilly's "The Heat is On " column.


nmccullough 2 years, 4 months ago

I've seen a couple of your comments about this guns and trucks thing. I drive a pickup truck and I own guns. I've written many pro-gun and pro-2nd Amendment columns. So I really don't understand why you think I'm being derogatory.

At the auction you mention, the guns were the featured items. When you pull into a parking lot and see 100 pickups with Bass Pro Shop and Ducks Unlimited stickers in their back windows, it doesn't take a detective to figure out that the guns are going to be popular items to bid on. I was just surprised at some of the stuff they bought and what they paid for it. (What is any serious gun guy going to do with a bright, neon blue and white .25? And even if you wanted it as a novelty, why would you pay nearly $200 for it?)

So I promise you, I have nothing against guys in trucks who own guns. I am that guy.


BufordGuy 2 years, 4 months ago

Nate, I think "notblind" was agreeing with you. By the way, great column. Best I've ever read!


JimmyOrr 2 years, 3 months ago

Nate, this is one of your best columns since I have been reading same in the GDP. I feel that perhaps my generation is the one generation that let America down so to speak. Back on June 6, 1944, I was one of the "little boys" left on the Rose Hill community in Columbus, GA. The "big boys," mostly from the class of 1942, had gone off to fight themselves a war. The "big boys" had been our heroes and those we "little boys" tried to emulate whether they be the all-state halfback, the hard hitting fast fielding baseball player, the city swimming champion, the city marble shooting champion, or whatever. Most came back and became our mentors whether at church, at school, or on the job after we entered the work force. They raised the bar for us which should have inspired us to do same for the next generation. I well remember the censored letters we received from daddy's kid brother (Uncle Bluford) who was serving in the U.S. Navy. As I understood him back then, censorship was the responsibility of one's commanding officer which, in my opinion, is where said responsibility was best served. I also remember the various WWII posters which related to our U.S. Navy that "Loose Lips Sink Ships." Perhaps responsible censorship in WWII ensured that the U.S. and our Allies were victorious.


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