When Americans travel abroad, they are often surprised at how well other countries do the things we used to think America does best. In fact, one reason so many American businesses still lead the world is because they benchmark the competition and emulate best practices. But suggest to an American politician that we should try to learn from other countries, and he will look at you like you are from Mars. It is somehow unpatriotic even to raise such comparisons.
Imagine if a politician were to say, “France has a better health care system than we do.” I can almost guarantee that politician would suffer electoral defeat — even though the statement, in most objective respects, is true. The U.S. is, for too many, the only country that matters; experiences anywhere else are irrelevant. Remember, we have many members of Congress who boast they have no passport.
At a time when many trend lines in the U.S. point to relative decline in this regard, one actually brings hope: More and more young Americans go abroad for some of their education.
“As spring ends, we grieve what has been lost and cherish what has been gained. We measure the rise and fall of our hopes in the Middle East and remember the catastrophic earthquake in Japan — a natural disaster erupting into a human one. As we enter a new, uncertain season, our destination is unknown, yet we travel against the flames of fear toward the promise of a better future ahead.”
In rare, color photos taken before and after the invasion, LIFE photographer Frank Scherschel captured countless, other lesser-known scenes from the days before D-Day to the onslaught and the weeks following.