Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 6, 2019
Against seemingly insurmountable odds, fighting an enemy so vicious, the survival of civilization and all humanity were at stake, Allied forces, under the leadership of General Dwight David Eisenhower stormed the beaches at Normandy on June 6, 1944 in one of the greatest displays of bravery in the history of mankind.
D-Day; the Longest Day; Operation Overlord; Omaha Beach; Pointe du Hoc - all synonymous with the largest amphibious assault over the English Channel into France to fight the battle proving to be the turning point of World War II - the battle and war for the soul of humanity - and that is not hyperbole.
“These were people who knew they were going to die,” said President Donald Trump, speaking on the 75th anniversary of this battle that should never be forgotten and should be seared into the minds of every freedom loving person on the face of the earth. The first wave off the essential, yet little remembered Higgins Boats, suffered severe casualties in a necessary push enabling the succeeding waves of military forces to triumph in their vital quest.
Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, sent his troops off on the all-important mission with these words:
“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 hope 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 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! 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 Almighty G-d upon this great and noble undertaking.”
The complete text of Eisenhower’s speech: https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/dwighteisenhowerorderofdday.htm
The level of bravery and valor exhibited by the men who stormed the beaches at Normandy on June 6, 1944 is virtually unmeasurable and incomparable to any other battle - and that is to take nothing away from every man and woman who has worn the uniform past or present. Yet D-Day veterans themselves downplay their own heroism in typical Greatest Generation stoicism - “the heroes were the ones who never came back.”
But Eisenhower understood their importance with his pre-battle words. And he would later walk through the depths of hell when liberating Nazi concentration camps, where “conditions of indescribable horror prevail,” Eisenhower wrote to George C. Marshall. Eisenhower’s invocation of prayers and of G-d also demonstrated the visceral importance and urgency of the times.
President Franklin Roosevelt also offered a D-Day prayer, which he read over national radio. https://www.fdrlibrary.org/d-day
On the 40th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1984, at Pointe du Hoc, President Ronald Reagan also offered prayers of thanksgiving and praised G-d in one of the great speeches of any presidency. http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-d-day.htm
President Trump also invoked G-d in his speech this morning - something no one should be afraid to do. Part of the greater problem from which the United States, and quite frankly, the world suffers, is straying from a belief in G-d. The D-Day messages transcend the battlefields. There are battlefields here at home in the United States - gang wars, invasions at the border, the life and death debate over abortion (it’s murder) and more than a modicum of prayer is most definitely needed. There are no atheists in foxholes nor on final exam days!
“You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said Trump, speaking before more than 170 World War II veterans at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial where 9,388 Americans are laid to rest. Their sacrifice should not have been in vain. Trump’s full speech: https://www.foxnews.com/world/president-trumps-speech-75th-d-day-anniversary-normandy
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. His cousin Seymour was killed in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and maternal grandfather Leon worked on the Manhattan Project.