Seventy-five years ago, on June 6, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, gave the order sending 160,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen on to the greatest land-sea invasion in history.
We call it D-Day.
In part he told them: “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 otherfronts 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… .
“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 all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
He wrote another speech on a small pad in his precise handwriting, in case the invasion failed:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.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 attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Scott Simon observed Eisenhower did not use phrases camouflaging failure, like, “Mistakes were made.” Or, “I will say nothing pending investigation.” Instead, he took full responsibility.
He never gave the latter speech because Allied troops were successful against all odds.
Eisenhower exemplified courage and inspired the same in others. He epitomized Paul’s challenge to “be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV). These are qualities we can all achieve with God’s help.