Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | June 6, 2014

70 Years Ago Today: D-Day

Into the Jaws of Death 23-0455M edit

Looking around the internet today, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I don’t see much writing to mark the occasion. Maybe there’s not much to say at this point that hasn’t already been said, and said better.

We can continue to express thanks to those who went.

Cimetière américain de Colleville-sur-Mer

Steve Saideman has an upbeat post on topic (while also noting that the anniversary of Midway earlier this same week garnered even less public attention: “Anniversaries relating to the Pacific War tends to get less attention in the American media than those of the European War”).

Here’s General Eisenhower’s message to the troops who were to take part in the invasion:

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.

(Ike echoed that phrase — “the Great Crusade” — in his post-war memoirs, which were entitled Crusade in Europe. For fairly straightforward reasons, no American general in our 21st Century conflicts could get away with that word choice.)

Image Credits: (1) Company E, 16th Infantry Reg., 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One), wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach. Photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent, June 6, 1944. Source: National Archives and Records Administration Link and Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Photo of Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, 2005. Source: Wikimedia Commons. (3) Map courtesy Department of History, US Military Academy.

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