June 6, 1944: A testament to American greatness
5 June 1944 – "Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:
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 hope 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 the 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 beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the above order to encourage Allied soldiers taking part in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Almost immediately after France fell to the Nazis in 1940, the Allies planned a cross-Channel assault on the German occupying forces, ultimately codenamed Operation Overlord.
But it was only four years later, by May 1944, that 2,876,000 Allied troops were amassed in southern England. The largest armada in history, made up of more than 4,000 American, British, and Canadian ships, lay in wait, and more than 1,200 planes stood ready. Against a tense backdrop of uncertain weather forecasts, disagreements in strategy, and related timing dilemmas, Eisenhower decided before dawn on June 5 to proceed with Overlord.
Later that same afternoon, he scribbled a note intended for release, accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and full blame should the effort to create a beachhead on the Normandy coast fail. Much more polished is his printed Order of the Day for June 6, 1944, which Eisenhower had begun drafting in February. The order was distributed to the 175,000-member expeditionary force on the eve of the invasion.
Though almost eighty years ago, D-Day remains a testament to America's altruism and greatness as a nation. No other sends its men and women to die in combat and expects nothing in return. It is touching to see how, to this day, members of our Greatest Generation are remembered in France and Belgium for their kindness and self-sacrifice when defending the principle of democracy thousands of miles away from the wheat fields of Kansas or the hills of Tennessee. Americans, unlike the Russians, who brought rape and pillage in their path (fast-forward to Ukraine), were seen as true liberators on a noble crusade to defeat the scourge of Nazi Germany.
May God bless America and those who without question or hesitation sacrificed seventy-eight years ago.