To commemorate the Allied invasion of Europe, which began 73 years ago today, here is one of my favorite speeches, delivered 33 years ago at Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, by Ronald Reagan. The text can be found here. June 5 was the 13th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s death.
I cannot imagine what those young men thought and felt that June day in 1944, except that they had a mission assigned to them that they were honor bound to fulfill, that it would be difficult, and that they might not make it to the end of that day. I will do them the honor of always remembering what they did, and call them heroes.
I remember what my mother said about my older brother, who joined the Navy when he was 17, in 1943: “He left a boy, and came home a man.”
Today we honor all of those men, many of them who left this earth those fateful days in June, 1944, and others who survived, but never forgot.
The newsflash came on a slip of paper in a red-and-white striped courier pouch: “EISENHOWERS HEADQUARTERS ANNOUNCES ALLIES LAND IN FRANCE.”
The Associated Press had some two dozen writers and photographers among the Allied forces as they landed on Normandy’s coast on June 6, 1944. From Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s London headquarters, Wes Gallagher — who later went on to become AP’s general manager — wrote up the first Allied official dispatches announcing D-Day and sent them in the sealed pouch to AP’s London office by military courier, after the military censor authorized their release.
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (AP) — Allied troops landed on the Normandy coast of France in tremendous strength by cloudy daylight today and stormed several miles inland with tanks and infantry in the grand assault which Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”
German broadcasts said the Allies penetrated several kilometers between Caen and Isigny, which are 35 miles apart and respectively nine and two miles from the sea.
Prime Minister Churchill told the House of Commons part of the record-shattering number of parachute and glider troops were fighting in Caen, and had seized a number of important bridges in the invasion area.
German opposition apparently was less effective than expected, although fierce in many respects, and the Germans said they were bringing reinforcements continuously up to the coast, where “a battle for life or death is in progress.” Continue reading ….