The great and noble undertaking
Today marks the 74th anniversary of D-Day, and it is appropriate that we honor those who were willing to stand tall against what some considered to be nearly impossible odds to defend our freedoms.
Because of the sacrifices that were made on D-Day — June 6, 1944 — along the beaches of Normandy, France, Allied forces were able to continue on their mission of defeating Adolph Hitler, the Nazis and the Axis forces that had brought a reign of terror and tyranny to Europe.
The actions of the Allied forces that day created a true turning point in history. They came at a time when there was no gray area in our world, and the choices were stark — there was a clear sense of evil vs. good, democracy vs. world domination, freedom vs. oppression.
We hope that everyone will pause for a moment to remember the sacrifice and effort that went into that invasion, and to consider the hard decisions made by leaders who were committing their forces to an operation they knew would claim a tremendous toll, but one they knew was necessary to stop Hitler.
Those who fought and survived the battles of World War II in general and D-Day in particular are old men now, and thousands die each day.
Sometime in the next few years, the last American veteran of World War II will finally claim his or her own place of peace and quiet, taking the last of the firsthand memories, leaving the telling of the battles to the historians. That’s why it is so critical that their sacrifices be remembered today.
It is with a great sense of remembrance and thanks, then, that we proudly share the words Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe, issued in a simple dispatch that was delivered to his troops before the beginning of Operation Overlord:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark on 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 will 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 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 beseech the blessing of the Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.