Putin Outmaneuvered Obama and Dropped the Mic

Radio and news veteran Mike Opelka, host of Pure Opelka on TheBlaze and editor of FireWire, TheBlaze daily newsletter, filled in for Glenn on The Glenn Beck Program today, Friday, December 30.

Read below or listen to the full segment from Hour 1 for answers to these questions:

• How did Putin "alpha male" Barack Obama?

• Is Hillary Clinton the new Nemo?

• Is Mike obsessed with pyrotechnics?

• What has Mike so impressed by the NYPD?

• Who is D.A. Henderson and why is he the most significant person who died this year?

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

MIKE: Hello, friends and neighbors. My name is Mike Opelka. And I will be here today and Monday. I will be ending the year on the Glenn Beck Program and kicked off 2017. Coming to you live from the constitutionally protected free speech bunker in the woods of Delaware. The first state to ratify the Constitution.

I'm proud to be here. I'm proud to have returned to the show.

If you don't know me, I hope we get to know each other over the next couple of days. I am part of TheBlaze.com. Have been a part of TheBlaze.com for officially -- well, next week -- officially six years. Next week, I will enter my seventh year as part of TheBlaze.com. Written over 2500 -- almost 3,000 pieces for TheBlaze. And you can see them on TheBlaze.com.

I encourage you to visit TheBlaze, as well as other news sources. I'm a guy who believes that we need to take in as much information as possible in order to understand the whole picture, try and see it from as many different points of view as you can and try and find as much truth as possible because I'm a person who believes the truth has no agenda.

Today -- today I want to do a couple of things. Obviously, we are going to deal with the fact that Vladimir Putin just alpha maled Barack Obama in the biggest way I have seen to date. That's absolutely right.

Putin just alpha maled Obama, dropped the mic, and walked off. What am I talked about? Well, I'll tell you in a minute.

We are going to introduce you to a hero, a veteran, a retired Army vet who is doing something amazing right now. He's doing something. He's not asking for money. He's only ask for attention and awareness. And we're going to talk to him. A real hero.

We're also -- also going to talk with a doctor. I was fascinated by the story this week, you know, heartbroken as well, the story of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds passing away within 24 hours of each other. What a tragic story.

But the speculation that Debbie Reynolds may have died of a broken heart and the theory that, "Hey, could that really happen?" It made me think, "We need a medical professional here." So we're going to talk to a medical professional today and get an opinion on that. A guy who has been -- he's on TV all the time. But he's got an operating practice in different parts of the country than I'm based. And he's a very clear speaker on topics of health.

And as heart disease is still killing more people in this country than anything, we need to be aware of that. So can you die of a broken heart? We'll find out later.

This is also the kiss-off of 2016. So if you want to join me today, you can -- you can talk about what you're not going to miss from 2016. The phone number here -- lines are always open. 888-727-BECK. 888-727-2325. Share your thoughts.

You can tweet at me as well. My Twitter identity is @stuntbrain. That's all one word. S-T-U-N-T B-R-A-I-N. And use the #whatIwon'tmissabout2016. What I won't miss about 2016.

One of the top things on my list, if we could prevent it from happening in 2017, would be man buns. I'm really sick of the man bun. If you only knew how silly it made you look. If you had any idea of how the majority -- and maybe you don't care. And maybe I'm jealous because my hair, which had been very long for years, is gone. Pretty much.

But 2016 has been probably the most troublesome year in my life.

And, yes, there were blessings in 2016. There were new members in our family, our extended family. There were new engagements in our extended family. There were wonderful things happening. I was given the opportunity to do a nighttime show on TheBlaze Radio Network, which I do from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. I hope you will stop in for that.

And so many other things just to be thankful for. But there are things that I am very happy to just wave buh-bye to 2016. So you will be -- I welcome you. I welcome you to share your thoughts about what you won't miss about 2016.

Now, the news from yesterday, we heard for quite some time that Barack Obama was going to retaliate, was going to respond to Russia. And the reports that Russia meddled in our election. And yesterday, we got the news that, in fact, the president was going to give -- and this to me seemed like a game show: You've got 72 hours to get out of the country. Pack your bags and get out, Russia. Thirty-five diplomats or people masquerading as diplomats were told they had to leave. And they were going to close these two compounds. The one 45-acre compound in Maryland. Massive place that the Soviet Union purchased back in the '70s. I wonder what happens to that.

If you tell them they have to get out, I wonder what becomes of that property. Are we allowed to then go in and search it? Are we allowed to see what's been going on in there? What will happen, Russia?

You know what I need, I need to light up the Buck Sexton symbol and see if Buck will call in and explain. I know he's getting -- he's on vacation. But he's also working on something else for today. I think he's filling in for Rush Limbaugh actually.

But this morning, all of the mainstream media sources were reporting, "Oh, my God, Russia is react. Russia is going to react to President Obama telling the 35 diplomats they were expelled. They have 72 hours to get out." And reciprocity was going to happen. And so this morning, the mainstream media was full-on reporting that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had told Putin, "We must retaliate. We must expel 35 Americans from the country."

And I can't tell you how many times I heard this morning the phrase "tit-for-tat." Yes, we get it, Mainstream Media. They're still saying it. But despite the fact that that's not happening.

Lavrov Told Putin, quote, we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is a part of diplomatic law.

And Putin's spokesperson said there's no doubt that Russia's adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well.

Little did we know how accurate that statement was. Putin, as I mentioned earlier, has just alpha maled Barack Obama. Totally alpha maled him. And I think this is amazing. Absolutely amazing. Putin basically laughed at Obama and called this -- basically called this an 11th-hour temper tantrum and said Russia won't cause problems to US diplomats. Russia will not deport anyone. Russia has the right to respond, but will not engage in irresponsible diplomacy.

That's one mic drop right there.

Vladimir Putin just told the president of the United States what he did was irresponsible diplomacy. And he saved -- he saved some even bigger shots. He called it kitchen diplomacy. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible kitchen diplomacy, but will plan further steps to restore Russian/US relations, based on the policies of the Trump administration. Boom!

But wait, there's more. Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump and the American people on the New Year, and he did something -- first of all, when Putin says this, you know it's got to tick off the Obama administration because Putin just really -- he really did drop the mic on Obama, call him an irresponsible kitchen diplomacy, his move. But now, every one of those Russian diplomats has got to know that they're being watched even closer. Every one of them has to know -- and let's not forget, earlier in the year, we had a situation where an American diplomat was trying to enter their compound and was tackled to the ground by a Russian police and/or military person because they were claiming they couldn't identify with them. Russia has been messing with our diplomats for a while, and this is a big one. But Putin played an even bigger -- bigger card here.

Not only did he congratulate Donald Trump, the president-elect, and the American people, wishing them a Happy New Year. He invited all of the children of the US diplomats in Russia, all of them to come to the Kremlin and celebrate the holidays.

Obama lost the diplomatic war on the way out. Let's face it, 21 days from today, we will have a new president. Twenty-one days from today, it becomes the Trump administration versus the Obama administration.

He said, Putin, in his exact -- in the translated words, "It is regrettable that the Obama administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family. My seasons greetings to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people. I wish you all happiness and prosperity."

Now, part of me believes that Mr. Putin has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, and he doesn't wish us anything close to happiness. But what he did here was the ultimate checkmate move in this diplomatic battle. It's just a piece of brilliance.

And will I get in trouble for praising a guy like Vladimir Putin? I don't care. That was a great move. Obama was -- Obama and Kerry this week have been so outclassed on both the Russian and Israeli problems. The only words I have for them is, "Bye, Felicia."

If you ever wanted an example of a kakistocracy, a word I've used before, a word Glenn has used before -- government by the worst possible individuals -- you have to look no further than President Obama and John Kerry on the situation of Israel and Russia in the past week.

It's a stunning example of the kakistocracy that we are currently dealing with. It's amazing.

I have to exhale. I know. I got all wound up. We just started the show. Mike Opelka is my name. This is the Glenn Beck Program.

You know, I have so much more to talk about because -- because there are so many things going on in the world today. I want to wrap up some of the memories of the year. We will -- we will recall some of the people who have left us. And since the media is focused on celebrities, I want to focus on some people who -- who left us in 2016 who were big difference makers. People you may never hear about. People the media seems to gloss over because they didn't have a movie out last year or they didn't sell 100 million records. But how about somebody that saved 500 million lives?

One person. You want to know about him? They lost -- we lost them this year. I'm going to stop away from it. When I get back, I will share with you the story of someone the media doesn't seem to be talking about, but we should be. At least I think we should be.

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[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka is my name, filling in for my friend, my boss Glenn Beck on this, the final Glenn Beck Program of 2016. We are discussing many topics, both the latest news and news stories and stuff we won't miss when 2016 finally leaves.

And I think someone is actually call in from Florida. I missed the name. Who is with me today?

CALLER: Hi, I'm Alex. And I'm in St. Petersburg, Florida.

MIKE: Hey, Alex. I'm jealous of your weather and your golf courses.

But what won't you miss about 2016?

CALLER: Well, I guess I'm optimistic to think that it won't happen in 2017. But I'm not going to miss disinformation, truthfulness -- truthiness, or post truth, or whatever you want to call it.

You know, I try to -- I joined every single Trump fan group on Facebook I could find. Not -- I don't comment. I just read. And I tried to understand what they think. Because, you know, I'm very different them. But also similar in some ways. But it seems that the things that get the most likes and the things that are best received are things that, with just a couple minute check -- you know, if you have the ability to check on the internet or, you know, at a computer at the library -- I don't know -- you would find out that it wouldn't be true.

MIKE: That's true.

CALLER: Little things.

MIKE: Yeah.

CALLER: But also huge things.

MIKE: There are many misconceptions and mistruths still being spread. And I think we have to vigilant. And somebody said to me, you know, not just to our own, but also to the snowflakes that we've been mocking. And I'm going to tell you, I'll raise my hand, I mock the snowflakes every day. But what I think we need to do is make sure we educate them. Each one of us has to teach someone.

Alex, I got to jump because I'm up against a hard break, and I have to share this story of a person we lost this year. Thank you for joining the show. Anybody can call in today.

888-727-BECK. 888-727-2325.

The guy I wanted to tell you about -- I know you're all thinking, "Antonin Scalia. You want to talk about Justice Scalia's death." No, that was a huge death. That was a massive death. And thankfully, it looks like we've weathered that storm. And we will have a Supreme Court that with any hope and luck and clear -- clear choices from President Trump, we will have a Supreme Court that will defend the Constitution going forward for decades.

I hope and pray that in my world, Justice Ted Cruz would be a wonderful gift from this new president. But the guy I think we need to salute and say, "God bless, rest in peace," is D.A. Henderson. D.A. Henderson died in August. He was a doctor, a doctor who basically saved 500 million lives.

Wait. What, Mike? How come we never heard of him? Henderson was a guy who led the eradication of smallpox by taking the smallpox vaccine around the world. He decided to do this in 1966. Led the World Health Organization's war on smallpox. And by 1977, the last known case was found in a hospital cook in Somalia.

The disease has been officially eradicated as of 1980. And, yes, we keep examples of it around to make sure that if it pops up, we can fight it off. But rest in peace, Dr. Henderson, you were one of the true heroes.

Now, what are you doing on New Year's Eve? I want to tell you about a really wildfire works show coming out of Dallas, Texas. And it's -- it's fascinating.

[break]

MIKE: It is Friday. The last Friday of 2016. My name is Mike Opelka. I'm typically heard on TheBlaze Radio network in the evenings on a show called Pure Opelka, which runs from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. And Saturday mornings. If you like what you're hearing here, I invite to you join me.

You can also see what I'm up to. If you go to TheBlaze.com and on the web page, there's a button at the top that says Channels, you can click on Channels and follow me. And you will get my -- my updates all the time and see what I'm up to, stories that I'm working on, et cetera. I would appreciate it.

And I would love to have more followers. We have a loyal group of stunt brainiacs who do follow the show and have made it a reality to -- to take it to five days a week -- or six days if you count Saturday's show. Things are -- things are happening here. And I appreciate my buddy Glenn Beck trusting me with his show to wrap up the year.

If you would like to join in the conversation, you can do so at Twitter. My Twitter handle @stuntbrain, all one word, S-T-U-N-T B-R-A-I-N. And the phones are open. 888-727-BECK. That is 727-2325.

I was going to give Glenn a hard time for putting his name in the phone number, and then I realized that my own cell phone number ends in M-I-K-E. So I would be -- I would be -- I would be in trouble if I made fun of him and I did it myself.

So we were supposed to have a guest here. There's a big fireworks show in Dallas, Texas, happening this weekend -- a big fireworks show from the reunion tower.

Are you aware of the Reunion Tower in Dallas, Texas? It's a pretty cool structure. 500 feet tall. And if -- if you are -- if you are watching television and watching the fireworks on TV, CNN, and Fox, and all the networks will cover the fireworks from around the world, typically starting with Sydney, Australia. And you'll see the fireworks coming off the bridge.

In New York, you don't see too many fireworks. You just see the large group of people who would be gathered in New York City.

And, by the way, New York is a little nervous this year. Why? Because ISIS has tried to make New York a target, as they have tried to make many big gatherings this year a target, especially during the holidays, after what we had happen over the Christmas holiday in Berlin. And so around Times Square, there will be 65 sand trucks making effectively a barrier. And there will also be another 100 trucks blocking the -- the square of Times Square, but not just right up close. It will kind of make a protected perimeter.

They've also -- the NYPD, who are just amazing, the NYPD has been checking out all the parking lots in the area, looking for rogue trucks. They've been going to truck rental places to see what's going on. Times Square, which should be filled because the whether is not going to be too cold. Times Square will have probably close to a million people. A million people on -- on New Year's Eve.

And if you've ever been there, it's kind of an amazing thing because you get a million people on the street. And the one thing I don't -- I don't understand is: How do those people stay out there for all day long without really getting to a bathroom? Because they can't.

The bathrooms typically in the hotels and the restaurants that are right there in Times Square, they are kind of on lockdown. And it's really difficult to get past security.

The two times I have worked Times Square on New Year's Eve for broadcast jobs, if you are working and you are overlooking Times Square, you're usually doing it from a hotel. And the hotels get on lockdown at 4 o'clock.

So just being at the hotel, there's eight hours where you can't get in -- you can get out, but it's very hard to get back in. And a million people on the street, in those pens that they have people all locked up, the little metal pens, it's almost impossible to find a bathroom. I don't know how they're doing it.

And I don't want to know. But I -- I will be watching from the comfort of my home. We tend to watch the New Year's Eve broadcast with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. I find them funny.

If you don't, I'm sorry, but I think they're entertaining. Now it's getting a little -- a little predictable. And I will tune in.

But after -- after you watch the midnight show on the east coast and you watch whatever pyrotechnics they show you from the east coast, I encourage you to hang out because -- and this is how small the world is: As I mentioned before, I'm broadcasting from the constitutionally protected free speech bunker in the woods of Delaware.

And as I sit here, a neighbor of mine is in Dallas, Texas, not far from TheBlaze headquarters. My neighbor happens to be a pyrotechnics genius, a wizard, a who is capable of putting on an incredible pyrotechnics show from just about anywhere at any time, which is why I tread lightly around him. Because you never know when something is going to go off.

His name is Denis O'Regan, and he's with Melrose Pyrotechnics, the company that is putting together this incredible show tonight -- or, not tonight, tomorrow night, from the Reunion Tower in Dallas. Denis, I know you're working like 24 hours a day, so I appreciate you giving us a couple of minutes here.

How is it going?

DENIS: Hey, Mike. We're doing great. We really lucked out with the weather down here. All of the pyrotechnicians that came down from our Chicago office are really pleased to be here in milder temperatures, and they're getting up in the windy city on that show.

MIKE: Well, you've got a really interesting task here. And as I look at fireworks shows that I've witnessed, both at baseball parks and in being in New York for decades, watching the barges on the East River and watching them just shoot stuff up, you're doing this from a structure that's 500 feet in the air and has a geodesic sphere on top of it. Is this a challenge, a dream, or both?

DENIS: It is absolutely both. It's a great structure. And while we're used to designing and producing shows off of flat or slightly domed surfaces like rooftops and so forth, this is a true 3D opportunity here. Because it's a sphere. And we shoot effects, both radially and tangentially from the sphere, not to mention from the base and from the columns that support the sphere.

It's really so much fun, really.

MIKE: What do you have? A bunch of Spider-Man guys climbing up the side of the tower, putting charges on the building?

DENIS: Well, some of them do wear harnesses, fall protection and so forth. But there is a roof within that sphere. There are three stories within the sphere. There's a restaurant. There's a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in there, and there's an observation deck. And there will actually be people inside of an enclosed space within the sphere, while the show is shooting out.

MIKE: Wow. And this sounds like the biggest undertaking the reunion tower has done in -- in its New Year's Eve stuff. Am I correct on that one?

DENIS: Oh, yeah. It's the biggest show that reunion show has done. We -- we have been -- this is our third year here. But first time we're doing New Year's Eve from the tower. And it's a really nice show. We've just got -- just from a technical standpoint, we've got over 3 miles of cable, connecting all of our modules. We've got 82 positions with numerous pods in each position.

It's very complex. It's taken months to plan every tenth of a second of the show.

MIKE: So months to plan. Tenths of a second will matter. How long will the show with music, pyrotechnics, and lights last?

DENIS: Well, we start a minute out from midnight with a count-up, as we call it, to the ball. Because the ball is not going to move, unless we succeed in spinning it off into --

MIKE: Wow.

DENIS: Getting a little silly there. But, you know, when you're designing a show like that, you let your fantasies take off, and you try to imagine what a viewer would like to see happen as you're -- as you're shooting these effects on angles, you know, trying to make that sphere actually turn.

But, you know, it's -- it's a lot to install. We try to visualize what we might like to see happen. We've designed a vortex coming out of the top of the ball. And numerous chases and waves wrapping the ball. And then chasing up the in to complete the answer. It's about an eight-minute show all totaled from when things get really crazy at midnight. And we will be controlling the time from the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado.

So it will be exactly midnight. And all of the show is controlled by digital time code and synchronized to an audio track. And there's going to be a satellite up-link and everything else.

MIKE: So, wow, there you have it, Central Time Zone people, you don't get short-changed this year. As a matter of fact, you might just have some of the best stuff you're going to see. It is my buddy, Denis O'Regan from Melrose Pyrotechnics, who is leading it from the Reunion Tower in Dallas, Texas.

Denis, I usually fall asleep about 12:30. I am staying up this year just for you to see your work.

DENIS: Oh, well, thank you, Mike.

MIKE: And I hope it all goes off as planned. I'm sure it will. I know -- Denis' calm demeanor is what makes me feel comfortable in this. I know that inside he's swirling, but his calm demeanor makes me feel comfortable. When he pushes that button, it's (sound effect). It's all going to work. Have a great New Year's, my friend. I'll see you back in the woods.

DENIS: Hey, thanks. Good talking to you, Mike. Take care. Happy New Years.

MIKE: Take care. Happy New Year.

It is amazing, isn't it? That we live in a world where, at any given time, you could walk down the street and run into a friend who is then going off to Dallas to put on the biggest fireworks show, the biggest pyrotechnics production that city has ever seen. And we'll all be able to watch it because CNN is going to carry it live. Which I think is very cool. And I wish my buddy good luck on all of his efforts, but I don't think he needs it.

When we get back, I want to talk about some of the strange stuff going on in the world today. I'm very nervous about my technology listening in on me, especially since a judge just agreed with the police department that if your technology is listening to you, it can be subpoenaed. We'll talk about that when the Glenn Beck Program continues.

[break]

MIKE: Mike Opelka is my name. I'm hosting for my buddy today, Glenn Beck, on the Glenn Beck Program. And I posted on Twitter earlier today my question of the day. I'm very nosy. I want to know what people are thinking. But it's usually mundane stuff because I think it is the mundane stuff that tells us more about somebody, how they live their lives, which way the toilet paper goes when you put it on the roll. Does it go over or under? Stuff like that. So I asked today on my Twitter, my Twitter feed, New Year's Eve, are you going out, staying home, or still deciding?

And currently, after just a couple hours, 14 percent of you are going out to party, 77 percent are staying home, and 9 percent still debating, which is fine because you have a day to think about it.

I'm a stay-at-homer. We tend to ride the couch and celebrate. That's why I talked to Denis -- my buddy, Denis O'Regan, just minutes ago, about the fireworks show in Dallas. And how about that Dallas? You guys are getting one of the big shows this year. I think that's very cool.

We are -- we need to do a deep dive on this situation with those -- those devices in your life that are constantly listening to you and the fact that a murder case has been at the center of an argument between -- a privacy argument where the court wants to get a hold of the device that is listening in your home so that when you say, "Search this for me," it's saving those searches. And if the devices are always listening, what is being done with that stuff?

And it worries me because I will tell you, for example, right now, I'm holding an i Phone in my hand. And I'm not -- I don't have anything but the front page engaged. But if I say, "Hey, Siri, what's the weather like?"

SIRI: Okay. The temperature today will range between 26 degrees and 39 degrees.

MIKE: See, she's listening all the time.

So all those devices -- it's very 1984. Orwell was so genius on this. But in order to get into this, we're going to need to bring in a legal mind. So when we come back, I want to talk about this story because a judge rendered a decision on that subpoena for that information, for that data. And I think this is stepping into the Fifth Amendment. This is stepping into our right to privacy as well, our right to be secure in our own thoughts.

But this is essentially dealing with bugging someone. And is our technologies bugging us? Are companies bugging us? We'll get -- we'll get an attorney's point of view on this. Dr. Wendy Patrick will join us next on the Glenn Beck Program. Of course, after the news. Come back.

Featured Image: Russias President Vladimir Putin (L) walks past US President Barack Obama as he arrives to pose for the family photo during the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. World leaders at the G20 summit on Friday failed to bridge their bitter divisions over US plans for military action against the Syrian regime, with Washington signalling that it has given up on securing Russia's support at the UN on the crisis. (Photo Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in history.

The Allied invasion force included 5,000 ships and landing craft, 11,000 planes, and almost three million allied soldiers, airmen and sailors. Despite such numbers, the location and timing of the invasion was still an enormous gamble. The Nazis fully expected such an invasion, they just didn't know precisely when or where it would be.

Despite the enormous logistics involved, the gamble worked and by the end of June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied troops were ashore in Normandy. The human cost was also enormous – over 4,900 American troops died on D-Day. That number doubled over the next month as they fought to establish a foothold in northern France.

There were five beach landing zones on the coast of northwestern France, divided among the Allies. They gave each landing zone a name. Canada was responsible for "Juno." Britain was responsible for "Gold" and "Sword." And the U.S. had "Utah" and "Omaha."

The Nazis were dug in with bunkers, machine guns, artillery, mines, barbed wire, and other obstacles to tangle any attempt to come ashore. Of the five beaches, Omaha was by far the most heavily defended. Over 2,500 U.S. soldiers were killed at Omaha – the beach so famously depicted in the opening battle sequence of the 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan. The real-life assault on Omaha Beach included 34 men in that first wave of attack who came from the same small town of Bedford, Virginia. The first Americans to die on Omaha Beach were the men from Bedford.

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America has a national D-Day Memorial, but many people don't know about it.

America has a national D-Day Memorial, but many people don't know about it. Maybe that's because it wasn't a government project and it's not in Washington DC. It was initiated and financed by veterans and private citizens. It's tucked away in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the small town of Bedford, Virginia. Why is the memorial for one of the most famous days in modern world history in such a tiny town? Because, as a proportion of its population of just 3,200 at the time, no community in the U.S. sacrificed more men on D-Day than Bedford.

There were 34 men in Company A from Bedford. Of those thirty-four, 23 died in the first wave of attacks. Six weeks after D-Day, the town's young telegraph operator was overwhelmed when news of many of the first deaths clattered across the Western Union line on the same day. Name after name of men and families that she knew well. There were so many at once that she had to enlist the help of customers in the pharmacy's soda shop to help deliver them all.

Among those killed in action were brothers Bedford and Raymond Hoback. Bedford was the rambunctious older brother with a fiancée back home that he couldn't wait to return to. Raymond was the quieter, more disciplined younger brother who could often be found reading his Bible. He fell in love with a British woman during his two years in England training for D-Day. Like in that opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, Bedford and Raymond barely made it down the ramp of their Higgins Boat in the swarm of bullets and hot steel before they were cut down in the wet sand.

Bedford and Raymond Hoback's mother, Macie, learned of both their deaths from two separate telegrams, the first on a Sunday morning, the second the following day. Their younger sister, Lucille, remembered her mother's devastation, and her father walking out to the barn to cry.

The day after D-Day, the killing field of Omaha Beach was already transforming into the massive supply port that would help fuel the American drive all the way to Berlin over the next year. A soldier from West Virginia was walking along the beach when he saw something jutting out of the sand. He reached down and pulled it out. He was surprised to find it was a Bible. The inside cover was inscribed with: "Raymond S. Hoback, from mother, Christmas, 1938." The soldier wrote a letter and mailed it with the Bible to Raymond's mother. That Bible, which likely tumbled from Raymond's pack when he fell on D-Day, became Macie Hoback's most cherished possession – the only personal belonging of her son that was ever returned.

Of the 23 Bedford men who died on Omaha Beach, eleven were laid to rest in the American cemetery in Normandy.

These men, many of them barely out of their teens, didn't sign up to march to the slaughter of course. They had hopes and dreams just like you and I. Many of them signed up for adventure, or because of peer pressure, and yes, a sense of honor and duty. Many of the Bedford Boys first signed up for the National Guard just to make a few extra bucks per month, get to hang out with their buddies, and enjoy target practice. But someone had to be first at Omaha Beach and that responsibility fell to the men from Bedford.

Over the last several years, the D-Day anniversary gets increasingly sad. Because each year, there are fewer and fewer men alive who were actually in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The last of the surviving Bedford Boys died in 2009. Most of the remaining D-Day veterans who are still with us are too frail to make the pilgrimage to France for the anniversary ceremonies like they used to.

It's difficult to think about losing these World War II veterans, because once they're all gone, we'll lose that tether to a time when the nation figured out how to be a better version of itself.

Not that they were saints and did everything right. They were as human as we are, with all the fallibility that entails. But in some respects, they were better. Because they went, and they toughed it out, and they accomplished an incredibly daunting mission, with sickening hardship, heartbreak, and terror along the way.

So, what does the anniversary of D-Day mean in 2019?

In one sense, this anniversary is a reprimand that we've failed to tell our own story well enough.

In one sense, this anniversary is a reprimand that we've failed to tell our own story well enough. You can't learn about the logistics of the operation and above all, the human cost, and not be humbled. But as a society, we have not emphasized well enough the story of D-Day and all that it represents. How can I say that? Because of an example just last weekend, when common sense got booed by Democratic Socialists at the California Democrats' State Convention. When Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper said during his speech that "socialism is not the answer," the crowd booed loudly. When did telling the truth about socialism become controversial?

Sure, socialists, and communists and other anti-American factions have always been around. America certainly had socialists in 1944. But the current socialists trying to take over the Democratic Party like a virus don't believe in the D-Day sacrifices to preserve America, because they don't believe America is worth preserving. They are agitating to reform America using the authoritarian playbook that has only ended in death and destruction everywhere it is followed.

Ask a Venezuelan citizen, or an Iraqi Christian, or a North Korean peasant why D-Day still matters in 2019.

The further we move away from caring about pivotal events like June 6, 1944, the less chance of survival we have as a nation.

At the same time, the D-Day anniversary is a reminder that we're not done yet. It's an opportunity for us to remember and let that inform how we live.

Near the end of Saving Private Ryan, the fictional Captain Miller lays dying, and he gives one last instruction to Private Ryan, the young man that he and his unit have sacrificed their lives to rescue in Normandy. He says, "Earn it."

In other words, don't waste the sacrifices that were made so that your life could be saved. Live it well. The message to "earn it" extends to the viewer and the nation as well – can we say we're earning the sacrifices that were made by Americans on D-Day? I cringe to think how our few remaining World War II veterans might answer that.

Honor. Duty. Sacrifice. Gratitude. Personal responsibility. These used to mean a lot more.

Honor. Duty. Sacrifice. Gratitude. Personal responsibility. These used to mean a lot more. I don't want to believe it's too late for us to rediscover those traits as a nation. I want to believe we can still earn it.

The challenge to "earn it" is a lot of pressure. Frankly, it's impossible. We can't fully earn the liberty that we inherited. But we can certainly try to earn it. Not trying is arrogant and immoral. And to tout socialism as the catch-all solution is naïve, and insulting to the men like those from Bedford who volunteered to go defend freedom. In truly striving to earn it, we help keep the flame of liberty aglow for future generations. It is necessary, honorable work if freedom is to survive.

The end of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is remarkably relevant for every anniversary of June 6, 1944. This is what D-Day still means in 2019:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Letter from Corporal H.W. Crayton to Mr. and Mrs. Hoback – parents of Bedford and Raymond Hoback who were both killed in action on June 6, 1944

Álvaro Serrano/Unsplash

July 9, 1944 Somewhere in France

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Hoback:

I really don't know how to start this letter to you folks, but will attempt to do something in words of writing. I will try to explain in the letter what this is all about.

While walking along the Beach D-day Plus One, I came upon this Bible and as most any person would do I picked it up from the sand to keep it from being destroyed. I knew that most all Bibles have names & addresses within the cover so I made it my business to thumb through the pages until I came upon the name above. Knowing that you no doubt would want the Book returned I am sending it knowing that most Bibles are a book to be cherished. I would have sent it sooner but have been quite busy and thought it best if a short period of time elapsed before returning it.

You have by now received a letter from your son saying he is well. I sincerely hope so.

I imagine what has happened is that your son dropped the Book without any notice. Most everybody who landed on the Beach D-Day lost something. I for one as others did lost most of my personal belongings, so you see how easy it was to have dropped the book and not know about it.

Everything was in such a turmoil that we didn't have a chance until a day or so later to try and locate our belongings.

Since I have arrived here in France I have had occasion to see a little of the country and find it quite like parts of the U.S.A. It is a very beautiful country, more so in peace time. War does change everything as it has this country. One would hardly think there was a war going on today. Everything is peaceful & quiet. The birds have begun their daily practice, all the flowers and trees are in bloom, especially the poppies & tulips which are very beautiful at this time of the year.

Time goes by so quickly as it has today. I must close hoping to hear that you receive the Bible in good shape.

Yours very truly,

Cpl. H.W. Crayton

It's not as easy as it used to be for billion-dollar entertainment empires like The Walt Disney Company. It would be more streamlined for Disney to produce its major motion pictures in its own backyard. After all, abortion in California is readily available, as well as a protected, cherished right. And since abortion access is critical for movie production, right up there with lighting equipment and craft services, you would think California would be the common-sense choice for location shooting. Alas, even billion-dollar studios must pinch pennies these days. So, in recent years, Disney, among other major Hollywood studios, has been farming out production to backwater Southern lands like Georgia, and even Louisiana. Those states offer more generous tax breaks than Disney's native California. As a result, Georgia for example, played host to much of the shooting for the recent worldwide box office smash Avengers: Endgame.

But now it looks like it's Georgia's endgame. The state recently passed what is known as a "heartbeat" bill – a vicious, anti-woman law that would try to make pregnant women allow their babies to be born and actually live. It's a bridge too far for a major studio like Disney, which was largely built on creating family entertainment. How can Disney possibly go about making quality movies, often aimed at children, without access to unfettered abortion? It's unconscionable. Lack of abortion access makes it nearly impossible to shoot movies. So, what's a major studio to do? Disney might have considered migrating its business to Louisiana, but that state too has now signed a heartbeat bill into law. It's utter madness.

These monstrous anti-abortion bills, coupled with having to live under President Trump, has led Disney to seek a new home for its legendary movie magic. Last week, Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, announced that all future Disney movies will now be filmed on location in the Sub-Saharan African nation of Wakanda.

"Disney and Wakanda are a match made in heaven," Iger told reporters. "Wakanda was, until recently, a secret kingdom, much like our own Magic Kingdom. With this new partnership, we'll not only get to continue our legacy of making movies that parents and children everywhere enjoy together, but we'll get to do so in a safe space that reveres abortion as much as we do."

Wakanda is one of only four African countries (out of 55) that allow unrestricted abortion.

As home to the most advanced technology in the world – and with the planet's highest per-capita concentration of wokeness – Wakanda offers women painless, hassle-free abortion on demand. As the Wakandan health ministry website explains, the complete absence of any white-patriarchal-Judeo-Christian influence allows women in Wakanda to have complete control of their own bodies (with the exception of females who are still fetuses). As winner of the U.N.'s 2018 Golden Forceps award (the U.N.'s highest abortion honor) Wakanda continues its glowing record on abortion. That makes it an ideal location for Disney's next round of live-action remakes of its own animated movies in which the company plans to remove all male characters.

Iger says he hopes to convince Wakandan leadership to share their top-secret vibranium-based abortion procedure technology so that American women can enjoy the same convenient, spa-like abortion treatment that Wakandan women have enjoyed for years.

Wakanda is one of only four African countries (out of 55) that allow unrestricted abortion. Disney plans to boycott and/or retaliate against the other 51 African nations, as well as any U.S. states, that restrict abortion. Specific plans are being kept under wraps, but sources say Disney's potential retaliation may include beaming Beverly Hills Chihuahua into the offending territories on a continuous, indefinite loop.

When asked how Wakanda's futuristic capital city and distinctly African landscape would be able to double for American movie locations, Iger said, "I guess America will just have to look more like Wakanda from now on."

One potential wrinkle for the Left-leaning studio is the fact that Wakanda has an impenetrable border wall-shield-thing designed to keep out foreign invaders as well as illegal immigrants. Iger said he understands Wakanda's policy of exclusivity, adding, "After all, not everyone gets into Disneyland. You have to have a ticket to get in. Anyone is welcome, but you have to go through the process of getting a ticket." When one reporter pointed out that Iger's answer sounded like the conservative argument for legal immigration under the rule of law, Iger insisted that the reporter was "a moronic fascist."

What if the unthinkable happens and Florida also enacts its own "heartbeat" law? That would be problematic since Walt Disney World is located in Florida. Iger responded that Disney would "cross that bridge if we get to it" but that the most likely scenario would entail "dismantling Disney World piece-by-piece and relocating it to the actual happiest place on earth – Wakanda." As for whether Disney would ever open character-themed abortion clinics inside its theme parks, Iger remained coy, but said, "Well, it is the place where dreams come true."

With the Wakanda solution, Disney may have found a place where Minnie Mouse can finally follow her heart and have true freedom of choice.

When pressed about the cost of ramping up production in a secretive African kingdom that has no existing moviemaking infrastructure (which could easily end up being much more expensive than simply shooting in California) Iger said, "You can't put a price tag on abortion freedom. Wakanda Forever and Abortion Forever!"

With the Wakanda solution, Disney may have found a place where Minnie Mouse can finally follow her heart and have true freedom of choice. And that will be welcome relief to traditional families all over the world who keep the Walt Disney Company in business.

*Disclaimer: The preceding story is a parody. Bob Iger did not actually say any of the quotes in the story. Neither is Wakanda an actual nation on planet Earth.

"Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris," is a podcast featuring conversations about how faith has guided newsmakers and celebrities through their best and worst times. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a much maligned religion so Glenn joined the podcast and took the time to explain what it means to him and how it changed his life.

From his suicidal days and his battle with drugs and alcohol, it was his wife Tania and his faith that saved him. All his ups and downs have given him the gift of empathy and he says he now understands the "cry for mercy" — something he wishes he'd given out more of over the years.

You can catch the whole podcast on any of the platforms listed below.

- Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
- TuneIn
- Spotify
- Stitcher
- ABC News app

One of these times I'm going to go on vacation, and I'm just not going to come back. I learn so much on a farm.

You want to know how things work, go spend a summer on a farm. You're having problems with your son or daughter, go spend a summer on a farm.

My son changed. Over two weeks.

Getting him out of bed, getting him to do anything, is like insane. He's a 15-year-old kid. Going all through the normal 15-year-old boy stuff. Getting him on the farm, where he was getting up and actually accomplishing stuff, having to build or mend fences, was amazing. And it changed him.

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Our society does not allow our kids to grow up, ever. I am convinced that our 15-year-olds could be fixing all kinds of stuff. Could be actually really making an impact in a positive way in our society. And what's wrong with our society is, we have gotten away from how things actually work. We're living in this theoretical world. When you're out on a farm, there's no theory here. If it rains, the crops will grow. If it rains too much, the crops won't grow.

If there's no sun, they won't grow. If there's too much sun, they'll shrivel up and die. There's no theory. We were out mending fences. Now, when I say the phrase to you, mending fences, what does that mean? When you think of mending fences, you think of, what?

Coming together. Bringing people together. Repairing arguments.

I've never mended a fence before until I started stringing a fence and I was like, "I ain't doing this anymore! Where is it broken? Can't we just tie a piece of barbed wire together?"

Let's stop talking about building a wall. Because that has all kinds of negative imagery. Mending fences is what we need to do.

That's called mending fences.

And why do you mend fences? So your animals don't get out and start to graze on somebody else's land. When your fence goes down, your cow is now on somebody else's land. And your cow is now eating their food.

We look at the phrase, mending fences as saying, hey. You know, we were both wrong. Mending fences has nothing to do with that.

Mending fences means build a wall. My neighbors and I, we're going to get along fine, as long as my cows don't go and steal their food, or their cows don't come over and steal my cow's food.

We're perfectly neighborly with each other, until one of us needs to mend a fence, because, dude, you got to mend that, because your cows keep coming over and eating my food.

You know what we need to do with Mexico? Mend fences.

Now, that's a phrase. You hear build a wall. That's horrible.

No, no, no. We need to mend fences.

In a farming community, that means putting up an electric fence. That means putting up barbed wire.

So the cows — because the cows will — they'll stick their head through barbed wire. And they'll eat the grass close to the road. Or eat the grass close to the other side of the fence. And they'll get their heads in between those fences. And they can't get out sometimes. Because the grass is always greener on the other side. You look at these damn cows and say turn around, cow — there's plenty of stuff over here.

No. They want the grass on the other side of the fence.

So you mend it.

And if it's really bad, you do what we do. We had to put an electric fence up. Now, imagine putting an electric fence up. That seems pretty radical and expensive.

Does it really work? Does it shock them? What does that feel like to a cow?

The cows hit it once, and then they don't hit it again. They can actually hear the buzz of the electric fence. There's a warning. Don't do it. Don't do it. They hear the current and they hit it once and they're like, "I'm not going to do that again."

So you mend fences, which means, keep your stuff on your side. I like you. We're good neighbors. You keep your stuff on your side and I'll keep my stuff on my side and we'll get together at the town hall and we'll see each other at the grocery store. Because we're good neighbors. But what stops us from fighting is knowing that there is a fence there.

This is my stuff. That's your stuff. But we can still trade and we'll help each other. But let's stop talking about building a wall. Because that has all kinds of negative imagery. Mending fences is what we need to do.

You can have a tough fence. It could be a giant wall. It could be an electric fence. But you need one. And that's how you come together.

The side that's having the problem, mends the fence.