On June 6, 1944, this beach on the coast of Normandy, France, became the turning point of World War II. At the time, France was occupied by Nazi Germany, as was much of western Europe. But then Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied forces, ordered an invasion. Code–named Operation Overlord, it took place on this 50–mile stretch of sand, where some 160,000 American, British, and Canadian troops, with an armada of nearly 5,000 vessels, launched the largest seaborne invasion in military history.
Addressing the troops before launching the campaign, General Eisenhower said: “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. … I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!”1 Against all odds, the hard–fought invasion of Normandy was a success, and the course of history was forever altered.
General Eisenhower never intended to be a military hero. As a youngster in Abilene, Kansas, what he really wanted to be was a major league baseball player. The world owes a debt of gratitude to the baseball coach at West Point Academy who cut young Dwight Eisenhower from the team, effectively ending his baseball career.2 Instead, Eisenhower became a five-star general and the 34th president of the United States.
He brought to Washington a military charisma reminiscent of Presidents George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, both charged with bringing the country together after deadly wars. In his final address as president in 1961, Eisenhower reflected on his “half a century in the service of our country.” His presidential counsel still holds true: “America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our … material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.”3
At this place made sacred by the sacrifices of those under Eisenhower’s command, we remember, and must never forget, that our nation’s best moments were born of courage and devotion to duty. We honor that history when we, as President Eisenhower urged, use what power we have to promote peace and make the world a better place.
May 30, 2021
Broadcast Number 4,785
The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
The Star-Spangled Banner
John Stafford Smith; arr. Frank Asper
Because of the Brave
Lowell Alexander & Steve Amerson; arr. Bob Krogstad
America the Beautiful
Samuel A. Ward; arr. Michael Davis
The Washington Post
John Philip Sousa; arr. Joseph Linger
This Is My Country
Al Jacobs; arr. Michael Davis
The Pledge of Allegiance
Charles Osgood; arr. Michael Davis
On This Day
Charles Strouse; arr. Mac Huff
A Tribute to the Armed Services
Medley arr. Lloyd Larson