Friday, June 06, 2014

Normandy: D-Day, 6 June 1944

Note: Friday Funnies follows the post.

On this 70th Anniversary of the Allied invasion of Western Europe on the Normandy coast of France, there are many programs remembering the brave soldiers who risked everything on that longest day. This is my remembrance. I created this post as a work of love.

At 0630 on the morning of June 6, 1944, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. armed only with a .45 colt and clutching a wooden cane, led the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division ashore in the first assault wave at Utah Beach on the Normandy coast of France. Of the five assault beaches on D-Day, the Utah beach landing was the most successful due to the conduct of General Roosevelt.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. Years after the war, General Omar Bradley, then Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, was asked by a magazine syndicate for a statement on the bravest act he had ever known in over forty years of military service. He described General Roosevelt’s conduct on Utah Beach.

The Prayers

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.

~Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

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 violence 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 goodwill 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 keeness 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 arrogances. 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.

~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

A Few of the Many Web Links (articles and videos):

D-day video (United States Army)

Normandy Landings (Wikipedia)  

D-Day: Exploding the myths of the Normandy landings by James Holland (CNN)

Encyclopedia Britannica's Guide to Normandy 1944

D-Day - The Untold Story (BBC)

D-Day, the Normandy Invasion, 6 - 25 June 1944 (Naval History and Heritage) 

The Battle of Normandy (D-day.Overlord)

D-Day (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

D-Day 70th anniversary: Ceremonies and staged landing (BBC News)

Archival Footage of D-Day (The Smithsonian)

A Few of the Many Books

A Few of the Many DVDs

They Remain in Normandy 

1 comment:

  1. D-Day was such a momentous point during WWII and so many perished. Great tribute to brave troops, Nick.