Forty-six years ago today, with these words from Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, began the largest military invasion in the history of the world.
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 the 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 the Nazi tyranny over the oppressed people of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
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 reservations 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 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.
And while he spoke of accepting nothing short of full victory, it is said he carried in his shirt pocket a short page of handwritten notes. Those words spoke of the failure of the Force being able to secure a foothold in Normandy. Those words also stated that only one person could and should be held responsible for the failed attempt; that person was the Supreme Commander.
Thankfully that note was never needed.