D-Day: Operation Overlord

D-Day: Operation OverlordJune 6, 1944 “We’ll start the war from right here.”

Dear Friends: Yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the momentous and pivotal battle of World War II. As an arm-chair novice historian and someone who relishes in contemplating and honoring glorious deeds of heroic individuals – D Day has always been a moving and important day for my family and me.

I hope you enjoy these excerpts and resources.

“The most difficult and complicated operation ever to take place”.

-Winston Churchill

“The history of war does not know of another undertaking comparable to it for breadth of conception, grandeur of scale, and mastery of execution”

-Joseph Stalin

“The supreme battle has begun. It is the battle in France and it is the battle of France. The clear sacred duty of the sons of France is to fight the enemy with all the means at their disposal.”

-Charles de Gaulle

“The destruction of the enemy’s landing is the sole decisive factor in the whole conduct of the war and hence in its final results.”

-Adolf Hitler

“ Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

I would begin with this spectacular colorized video: Spectacular footage of D-Day, the 6th of June 1944 in color (Enhanced and A.I. colorized)

The health blogger Dr. Peter Attia has a nice post about D-Day with good background and recollections of his visit: D-Day: June 6, 1944

President Reagan’s classic speech is linked here- with both the written speech and audio recording: Great Speeches Collection: Ronald Reagan Speech on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For 4 long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of WW II – “The best book on what many historians consider to be the most important day of the 20th century.”

The late great historian Stephen E. Ambrose wrote the magisterial and classic book on D-Day. I highly recommend it.

But for all that American industrial brawn and organizational ability, for all the plans and preparations, for all the inspired leadership, in the end the successor failure in Operation Overlord came down to a relatively small number of junior officers, noncoms, and privates or seamen.

It all came down to a bunch of eighteen-to-twenty-eight-year-olds. They magnificently trained and equipped and supported, but only a few of them had ever been in combat.

It was an open question, toward the end of spring 1944, as to whether a democracy could produce young soldiers capable of fighting effectively against the best at Nazi German could produce. Hitler was certain the answer was no.

But when the test came, when freedom had to be fought for or abandoned, they fought. The were soldiers of democracy. They were the men of D-Day, and to them we owe our freedom.

When can their glory fade?

General Eisenhower was interviewed by Walter Cronkite in 1964- on CBS Reports (1964): “D-Day Plus 20 Years – Eisenhower Returns to Normandy”

“But it’s a wonderful thing to remember what those fellows twenty years ago were fighting for and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve our way of life. Not to conquer any territory, not for any ambitions of our own. But to make sure that Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world.

“I think it’s just overwhelming. To think of the lives that were given for that principle, paying a terrible price on this beach alone, on that one day, 2,000 casualties. But they did it so that the world could be free. It just shows what free men will do rather than be slaves.”

Let us know what you think and tell us about your reading and family recollections on this important historical day and also what your Memorial Day celebrations were like.

Yours in health-

Dr. Pappas and the Pappas Health team

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