Friday, June 6, 2014

Statement by the President on the 10th Anniversary of the Landing in Normandy

THIS DAY is the tenth anniversary of the landing of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Normandy. That combined land-sea-air operation was made possible by the joint labors of cooperating nations. It depended for its success upon the skill, determination and self-sacrifice of men from several lands. It set in motion a chain of events which affected the history of the entire world.
Despite the losses and suffering involved in that human effort, and in the epic conflict of which it was a part, we today find in those experiences reasons for hope and inspiration. They remind us particularly of the accomplishments attainable through close cooperation and friendship among free peoples striving toward a common goal. Some of my most cherished memories of that campaign are those of friendly cooperation with such distinguished military leaders of foreign nations as Field Marshal Montgomery, Admiral Ramsay, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Tedder, Marshal de Lattre de Tassigny, Marshal Juin and Marshal; Leclerc. I recall my pleasant association with the outstanding Soviet soldier, Marshal Zhukov, and the victorious meeting at the Elbe of the Armies of the West and of the East. These lessons of unity and cooperation have by no means been lost in the trying period of reconstruction since the fighting stopped. Rather, we see peoples, once bitter enemies, burying their antagonisms and joining together to meet the problems of the postwar world. If all those nations which were members of the Grand Alliance have not maintained in time of peace the spirit of that wartime union, if some of the peoples who were our comrades-in-arms have been kept apart from us, that is cause for profound regret, but not for despair. The courage, devotion and faith which brought us through the perils of war will inevitably bring us success in our unremitting search for peace. security and freedom.

Citation: Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Statement by the President on the 10th Anniversary of the Landing in Normandy.," June 6, 1954. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

As a corrective to hindsight bias, it is always important to realize that no one, Eisenhower included, could possibly have known that the Normandy invasion would be successful. On the day prior to the landings, he scribbled the note below, in the event of failure. He found it crumpled in his uniform pocket days later, unneeded.

"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 upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault is attached to the attempt it is mine alone."

Interesting that he dated it July 5, not June 5. Some kind of Freudian slip? A sign that he is thinking a month ahead?

Some more on Eisenhower and D-Day, from The Art of Manliness.

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