June 06, 2007
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
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 hopes 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 all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
I have a bizarre D-Day tradition: every June 6th, I try to head over to Kenwood, the estate down the road from Monticello which is now where the International Center for Jefferson Studies and the Jefferson Library is housed. The cottage right next to the library is where Franklin Roosevelt spent June 5th-6th, 1944---the idea being to pose a final feint for any German spies in Washington by having the President out of the federal city on vacation right before the invasion.
There's a little garden there, and I try to imagine what it must have been like in the early afternoon when the first horrible, horrible reports began to filter in. Most of the trees around the building are quite old, and so were probably there then, their leaves providing a gentle shade, the light dappled on the brick courtyard.
I also try to read Eisenhower's "In Case of Failure" message. If you want to know the real definition of leadership and character, here it is:
Right down to getting the month wrong--July, instead of June.
Posted by Steve-O at June 6, 2007 09:28 AM