06-05-2014 11:06 PM
In the morning hours of June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel to land on the beaches of Normandy, France. Their mission: Gain a foothold against Nazi Germany and begin the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.
On the day of the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, penned inspiring words to the troops:
“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.” Read the full text.
Several surviving members of the D-Day invasion shared their thoughts during USAA’s Memorial Day Ceremony.
“The war could not have continued without the success we achieved in Normandy. Definitely worth every footstep,” said Allan G. Pixton, retired Army brigadier general. “It was something that couldn’t have happened without the total efforts of every one of those guys. It was of vital importance.”
“It certainly changed my life. And I always felt too that I owed something to God and my comrades, so I tried to make something of my life,” said Arnald Gabriel, retired Air Force colonel. “Some of the best advice that I’ve ever gotten: ‘It’s OK to look back, just don’t stare.’”
Eisenhower also penned another letter the day before the landings at Normandy. This "In Case of Failure" message was to be used should the invasion fail. Eisenhower’s mind was likely so burdened that he accidentally dated the letter "July" 5 instead of "June" 5.
Watch the video for more.
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