D-Day, 65 years on

June 6, 2009
By

(AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

Close your eyes.

 Imagine yourself a high school graduate but just one year ago.

Now imagine yourself crammed elbow to elbow in a floating sardine can filled with puke, stench, and fear from sea to shining sea.

That’s exactly what happened to thousands of kids from Beaumont to Brooklyn some sixty five years ago as they each prayed they would be one of the survivors.

Survivors of the largest amphibious assault in recorded history.  Survivors of code name “Operation Overlord”, survivors of the assault on Hitler’s “Fortress Europe”.

Below is the text of the message delivered to those kids from the Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight David Eisenhower:

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 and 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.

SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Below is the text of the handwritten note that General Eisenhower had in his pocket, ready to deliver if the Normandy landings failed.

“Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

History is scattered with the “what if’s” and “if only’s”.

All I ask you to do this day is say a prayer for the fallen and thank God for the way it went.

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