Morale, persistence and destruction 

Those three themes came out in all the readings for this final blog post. Destruction just seems to be ever present as the war enters its final phase in the Atlantic Theatre. Germany has its back against the wall and is fighting tooth and nail to the very end. Meanwhile, the United States is trying to pound the German people into submission. Western France sits at the spear point of the Allied invasion and suffers considerable damage and carnage. So much sacrifice and loss is made at this phase it’s utterly unimaginable the level of destruction taking place on a daily basis. Pyle speaks to this when he says, “And all of us together will have to learn how to reassemble our broken world into a pattern so firm and fair that another great war cannot soon be possible.” 

Persistence is another word that came up again and again. Persistence by  Eisenhower and the high command to keep pushing hard against Germany to avoid getting bogged down like what happened in WWI. The persistence of our soldiers who withstood barrages, offenses and strong defenses throughout their march towards Berlin is also important to recognize. The strategizing is done in the war room by generals but the fighting is done in the foxholes, cities and battlefields where soldiers have to put their all into it. There is also the persistence of the American people who are putting forth an immense war effort to supply and support our soldiers.

Our final theme is that of morale—positive for the Allies and a downward spiral of negativity for the Germans. This is widespread throughout the ground troops but also amongst the leadership. Hitler’s distrust of his advisors makes it difficult for them to be confident in their advice. Many of them resort to investing more time into planning Hitler’s demise to redirect the war or end it altogether. German soldiers have fought hard, met the peak of victory and are now in their slow fade on both the eastern and western fronts. Meanwhile, our forces keep securing tough-fought victories that is fueled by leadership and the home front.

For my Memorial Day Facebook status I decided to quote Ernie Pyle’s statement regarding the legacy he hoped for the victory in WWII: “We did not win it because destiny created us better than all other peoples. I hope that in victory we are more grateful than we are proud. I hope we can rejoice in victory—but humbly. The dead men would not want us to gloat.”

By the way, this is Ron writing on behalf of Matti Martin and myself. She is fighting a cold while writing final papers, studying for final tests and completing college applications. Makes my preparations for taking 70 kids to D.C. next week, articles to write, videos to produce and photos to edit seem rather easy. Okay, maybe not but I wouldn’t trade places with her if I could. Both of us are VERY excited for the Institute.

By the way… might want to give this touching speech a listen as well and share with your students if you are so inclined.


I have this file as an mp3 if you prefer. Message me and I’ll send it to you (runs about 12 minutes).