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A Fateful Decision; an Historic Outcome

June 5, 2020

It is difficult to overemphasize the world-changing events that hung in the balance on June 5, 1944. Operation Overlord, the military operation launched against Nazi forces in Normandy, had been postponed a number of times, due to inadequate landing craft and even the weather. In the early hours of June 5, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said “Let’s go.”

This decision was made in the face of more uncertain weather and doubt among some of his senior command that critical Airborne troops—deployed to secure inland areas so that our soldiers could get off the beaches—would survive the assault. The unstable weather conditions would play an outsized role in their necessary success.

History was made the day of the invasion—June 6, 1944. On this anniversary, we are humbled in the memory of those who successfully secured the beachhead in Normandy seventy-six years ago, and went on to liberate Europe. The sacrifices were countless, the heroism legendary, and the courage and tenacity of leadership indispensable. 

Although the on-site commemorations in Normandy have been canceled this year due to the pandemic, my thoughts—and those of all Americans and their Allies—turn again to that titanic struggle to rid the world of Nazi oppression. Here is a link to my comments, in a short film produced by the American Embassy in France:

Video: Susan Eisenhower’s remarks on VE Day and the gift we received from those who served with Allied Forces in World War II.

This time last year, in addition to the memorable commemorations in the American sector, I had the enormous honor of crossing the English channel with Henry Montgomery, the grandson of Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of land forces on D-Day, and nearly forty British veterans of the landings.

The 75th anniversary was an occasion to be remembered, but it will not be the last time thousands of people go to the Normandy coast to stand in silent gratitude.

Susan Eisenhower and Henry Montgomery standing before the D-Day map
Photo: With Henry Montgomery, almost exactly seventy-five years later, at Southwick House where the D-Day decision was made. The original map still hangs on the wall. Credit: Susan Eisenhower. (All rights reserved. Not for reproduction without permission.)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. catherwoc0001 permalink
    June 5, 2020 7:06 am

    Susan – this is wonderful! If your grandfather had had his way we would have won the war in 1943! But his genius for command enabled the West to be saved for democracy in 1944-1945 and that is an achievement to which we owe him our profoundest ongoing gratitude!

  2. joe permalink
    June 6, 2020 9:14 pm

    Wonderful commentary. Thank you. God Bless and be safe!

  3. Nancy Newman permalink
    June 7, 2020 9:53 pm

    My brother-in-law Robert Lehman went in on the second wave at Normandy. He wasn’t sure he would survive the gunfire and he an another American soldier (First American), who he didn’t know, dug themselves into the sand on the beach so they would be somewhat protected from the bombs bursting around them. After getting through this ordeal they marched across France to fight in The Battle of the Bulge. They were so young – and so brave. Bless them!

  4. James McHale permalink
    June 8, 2020 7:34 am

    BRAVO to ALL involved on that most consequential of days…….
    Extraordinary logistics, planning, & other concurrent tactical support, coupled w/necessary successful secrecy & leadership well-paved the way for the courageous individuals who served in BATTLE on that fateful, critically successful day [arguably, the beginning of the end of WWII (a year or so later)].
    We, today, continue to stand upon their shoulders—as t’ giants that they were—in full/ongoing gratitude.

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