Friday, June 06, 2008

Sixty-four years ago today

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a 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 blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

-President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Delivered to troops by radio the morning of June 6, 1944.

Listen to audio

President Eisenhower speaking to the 101st Airborne before they jump behind enemy lines on D-Day.


Seaborne divisions approaching the Normandy coast of France.
One of the most famous pictures of the D-day invasion.

"The landing by regiments of the 1st and 29th Infantry divisions and Army Rangers on OMAHA Beach was even more difficult than expected. When the first wave landed at 6:30 a.m., the men found that naval gunfire and prelanding air bombardments had not softened German defenses or resistance. Along the 7,000 yards of Normandy shore German defenses were as close to that of an Atlantic Wall as any of the beaches. Enemy positions that looked down from bluffs as high as 170 feet, and water and beach obstacles strewn across the narrow strip of beach, stopped the assault at the water's edge for much of the morning of D-Day." keep reading

The Germans placed many obstacles on the beach and in the surrounding countryside intended to damage incoming boats or other naval vessels, as well as paratroopers.

So why is this success story such a big deal?

It was, literally, the beginning of the end.

It ended this.

American War Cemetery at Coleville. Just next to and above Omaha Beach, the beach with the most casualties (2,200). Probably my favorite place in France.

I love our veterans.

For more information about the D-day invasion, see Wikipedia or Brittanica
Frequently asked questions about the D-day invasion (submitted by the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, France)
Pictures of the Timpview Band in France for the 60th commemoration of D-day


janel said...

Thanks for the great reminder. I just thought it was a great day because of the free babysitting and celebrating I did for our anniversary. Thanks for reminding me there's something bigger out there. The THS pics are really nice, too. I hope you can tell me about the Normandy Project soon. I must have been busy having a baby to have not heard the details 4 years ago...I'm glad you got to go. Thanks for sharing.

Courtney said...

Suz, that was great! Thank you!