We interrupt our continuing series on the Federalist debates to honor the anniversary of D-Day. We’ll start with an important and inspiring document: the “Order of the Day”, or the message Eisenhower had read aloud to all 175,000 of the Allied soldiers, medics, and personnel about to leave the British shore and sail to Normandy.
This version comes to us from the Kansas History Gateway, which is fitting since Dwight Eisenhower moved from his birthplace of Denison, Texas to Abilene, Kansas at the age of two with his family.
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 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 the 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! 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 reserves 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.
SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower
The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere did cross the Channel with that force. All eyes would be on Normandy, including Nazi eyes; the Nazis did indeed fight savagely. You can see actual footage of the landing at the Smithsonian website–begin at 16:31. The first transport vessels approach the shore at 19:59 and all you can hear is cannon fire. At 21:34 you are inside one of them, and the faces of the men as they listen to the barrage they are about to enter are profoundly moving. One American chews gum, and the sense that he is consciously enjoying this innocent pleasure for the last time is hard to escape. The Nazis prepare. At 23:29, the first transports land.
If ever human beings fought for a noble cause, this was it. And Eisenhower’s message bring them on to victory is deeply stirring, But on June 7, we’ll post a different message from Eisenhower, that we find even more inspiring. Stay tuned.