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June 06, 2011

June 6, 1944 Operation Overlord

67 years ago.

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

Looking back it seems so clear that once Fortress Europa was breached, the power of the Arsenal of Democracy would roll across the continent and rid the world of the scourge of Nazism. But on that stormy June night before, it was far from clear success would be ours. It was so unclear how it would turnout that Ike prepared a statement announcing the failure of the invasion and accepting full responsibility for the defeat. Thankfully this short statement is simply a historical curiosity, for a world in which is was issued is simply too awful to contemplate.

67 years. If a soldier was 18 when he stormed one of the beaches or jumped from a plane into France, he'd be 85 years old now. I saw something yesterday that there are about 1.6 million of the 16 million WWII vets left and we are losing them at faster and faster rates. It's the nature of life and time but as someone born in 1969 when everyone's grandfather was a vet, it's hard to believe there are relatively so few left. When I was a kid WWI seemed like ancient history that a few ancient men lived through. Now, it's the deeds of the The Greatest Generation that seem so long ago.

Thanks to technology and a national reverence for what they did during 3+ years of hell, we'll never forget.

While many have left us in the decades that followed, so many never got the chance to reap the rewards they gave all to secure. They did not grow old, they will forever be the boys who gave their future so that we may have ours.


Via John Noonan...some amazing color photos from the time of D-Day.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:58 AM

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