Jun 5, 2008

"And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking." 

Between midnight and dawn they came. Thousands of them. Some by air and some by sea. To look at the plan in retrospect, one gets the impression that the idea was to simply put more men ashore than the enemy had bullets. Somehow it worked. But it was never a certain thing.
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
That note sat in Eisenhower's pocket waiting to be read to an American public (and British and Canadian and more) that did not have the benefit/curse of a 24 hour news cycle. Blessedly, he never read it aloud to anyone but maybe himself. 150,000 men landed in the Normandy region of western France 64 years ago today. They would be the first wave to crash into Hitler's "Atlantikwall" and push into Fortress Europe, and many of them would never leave. Through the brilliant planning of the Allied leaders, the valorous conduct of the Allied armies, and the infighting between elements of the German command structure that kept them from mounting a truly effective defense - and by the grace of God - they won. We won. And we are obligated to never forget and never squander what was given to us by those men.

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Without getting into very technical, very dry, field manual-like presentations, here's some recommended media:
- For the assault at Omaha Beach - the first half hour of "Saving Private Ryan"
- For the fight faced by the airborne - the first disc (specifically episode 2) of "Band of Brothers"
- For a look at the entire scope of the invasion, including some German perspectives - The Longest Day (a classic that stars pretty much God and everyone)
- For damn near every aspect of the plan and the day -
The Steel Wave, the just released novel by Jeff Shaara, and part two of a yet to be completed trilogy (that I'm presently halfway through, thanks to Mom for the first book and the wonderful Wif for the second!)
- And of course, what was originally the D-Day Museum, the National WWII Museum

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