Primary Source: Eisenhower on D-Day

Jonathan Den Hartog

As my June entries have traditionally fallen on the anniversary of D-Day, I've enjoyed using the entry to highlight topics around religion in World War II. For previous entries, see here and here. 

Via the National World War II Museum

Today, briefly and with minimal analysis, let me share Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's Orders of the Day for D-Day:

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 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 marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your 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.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

I would observe that not only does Eisenhower conclude by beseeching "the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking," but he had earlier assured the soldiers that the "hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you." Eisenhower posed the D-Day invasion as a "Crusade" that properly had the support of American and international prayers. All participants could enter the fray with a sense of a just cause for the violence that was awaiting them. A one-page order thus points to many questions about faith, war, violence, and nationalism.


esclark said…
Thanks for sharing this!

This reminds me of the idea Lauren and I had a while back of making a RiAH Omeka database of primary sources. One of these days, we'll do it.

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