This morning in 1944, American, British and Canadian families woke up just like you did, but heard the news that the European invasion had begun. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children wondered about the fate of their loved ones based somewhere in England, and what they were going through.
The continent of Europe was enslaved. An evil had covered it from the Atlantic to the Urals, and if the men on those beaches didn’t succeed, it would remain enslaved for perhaps another decade, if not longer.
The men hitting those beaches were there to end the summary executions, the slave labor factories, the arbitrary rule of evil men, the huddled terror of the gas chambers, the executions of clergy, and the brutal crushing of the human spirit. History provides moments where the darkest evil shows itself clearly. D-Day was the event when the weight of western civilization, the gravity of America, and the heroic fears of hundreds of thousands of men listened to the humming of the engines delivering them to the fight, would be the force of good. They surely wondered what the world would be like in a year, wondering if they would succeed, wondering if the evil of the enemy would be defeated. To them, we owe the highest salute.
It is no wonder then, that Ike sought the master of the cause of good to shine light upon the day. His prayer, seventy one years ago today:
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
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.
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