June 6, 1944. One of the turning points in modern history. You don’t have to be a history nerd like me to realize the importance of that day on everything that came afterwards.
The sacrifices. The courage. The odds stacked against us. The first research paper I ever wrote analyzed D-Day, why it should have failed, and why it succeeded. But I’m hardly qualified, on this day, to provide any sort of wisdom or reflection. Besides, my best friend Jay Salato did that so well last year when he was at the American Cemetery on D-Day and participated in the ceremonies. You can read all about that in this post from last year.
Instead, to commemorate D-Day, I’m going to provide you with the words and images that resonate most strongly in my mind. Three YouTube videos that I urge you to watch and/or listen to on June 6, 1944. It’s a day that should be remembered more often than it is. God Bless those who fought, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of millions, and these United States of America!
General Dwight Eisenhower’s Message Sent Just Prior to the Invasion
Text: 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.
Listen to the audio of Eisenhower delivering the speech.
Saving Private Ryan’s First 20 Minutes – The Invasion of Omaha Beach, the bloodiest part of the Normandy Invasion
Steven Spielberg brilliantly depicted the invasion of Omaha Beach in the first scenes of Saving Private Ryan. It’s violent, it’s bloody, and it’s stomach-churning, but very little else will help you remember and respect what happened on D-Day.
FDR’s Radio Address to the Nation on the morning of June 6, 1944: Announces the D-Day Operation ongoing in Europe and leads the nation in prayer.
The following is one of the best prayers I’ve ever heard. I read it often, as a reminder of so many things that are important. It’s a forgotten remnant of history that I would argue is one of the most important. The President of the United States, addressing the entire nation on the radio, leading the nation in a powerful prayer.
Text: My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas – whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
Listen to the radio address below.