The order was issued by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower Just prior to the invasion on June 6, 1944, to encourage Allied soldiers taking part in the D-day invasion. The Allies had been planning to invade since the day German forces took France in 1940. The Mission was to be a cross-Channel assault on the German occupying forces, ultimately code-named Operation Overlord. By May 1944, nearly 3 million Allied troops were amassed in southern England waiting for the moment to arrive. The largest armada in history, made up of more than 4,000 American, British, and Canadian ships, had assembled off the coast, and more that 1,200 planes collected at airfields across the country. Against a tense backdrop of uncertain weather forecasts, disagreements in strategy, and related timing dilemmas, Eisenhower decided before dawn on June 5 to proceed with the mission. Later that same afternoon, he scribbled a note intended for release, accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and full blame should the effort to create a beachhead on the Normandy coast fail. Much more polished is his printed Order of the Day for June 6, 1944, which Eisenhower began drafting months earlier. The order was distributed to the 175,000-member expeditionary force on the eve of the invasion.
This week marks the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to the D-day beaches for various ceremonies to remember the event and those who died.
Speaking of casualties, To this day there does not exist an official count of D-Day casualties; the main reason for this was the simple fact that keeping track of 2.8 million troops is almost impossible. What we do know is this: over 37,000 allied ground troops and another 16,000 airmen were killed during the battle of Normandy, which includes the D-day landings. Think about that. 53,000 men died liberating one part of France from the Nazis…and they were the winning side. It’s estimated the Germans lost more than 200,000 men.
The invasion was the beginning of the liberation of europe, and it is something worth remembering. This week I’m making my way to Afghanistan to spend some time with US troops who are carrying the torch for those heroes from world war two – the world has changed a lot in the intervening 75 years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the necessity for good men to stand up to evil, even at the cost of their own lives and safety. So for the next few episodes of the podcast I’ll be bringing you some special interviews, speeches and stories of heroism centered around the Normandy invasions, and I hope you enjoy them. Many of these interviews came from my friends over at the defense Visual Information Distribution Service, and they have my gratitude for collecting and saving these speeches and interviews for posterity. These will be episodes you will want to share with your kids. So go get ’em and let’s get started.
[MG Schwartz speech]
I feel like we need to spend more time elevating our heroes. America needs all the good men she can get, and when one gives his life like that, we need to make it a very big deal. As the Bible says, Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
When I was in the Army I had to deal with people asking me sometimes how I, as a Christian, could condone, and even possibly participate in a war. To answer that question I memorized part of this quote by John Stuart Mill, and it helped me so much that I’m going to quote it verbatim for you as we end this episode of the podcast. So thanks for watching, and I’ll see you back again tomorrow.