In the case of General Eisenhower, he had to walk a tightrope between the military requirements and the politicians who controlled appointments and the purse strings. While Americans now supported war after much of the 1930's which were spent trying to avoid one, even in war the tide of public opinion can turn quickly if things go poorly. Not only was the invasion risky at best, even the weather was questionable, yet Ike knew that after several false alarms and stand downs, the readiness for battle can wane in a soldier being held back too long. And some of the soldiers had been loaded aboard delivery vessels for several days already. So, on this day seventy-five years ago, Ike made the call to go and he visited some troops to tell them in person under secrecy, of course, for the media wouldn't be told by announcement until the invasion was well underway. As we know, in the end it turned out well and Ike went on to be President of the United States. Had it failed, he would have been cast as a failure by history. This man who was picked for his job because of his ability to get others to work together was, by the grace of God, a winner in this decision and later he would, with the help of General Omar Bradley, a brilliant staff officer, succeed in keeping the egos of General George Patton and British Field Marshal Montgomery and others under wraps to keep the Allied effort moving forward.
But what about the troops, tired of inspections and make-work and false alarms and pep talks who just wanted to get things going since the sooner they did it, the sooner they might go home? They were either in place or close nearby, ready to go to France and get the tension, stress and fearful anticipation over. The Airborne troops were adjacent to their craft, organized by sticks, on the airfield. The infantry were either at the docks, already onboard the ferrying vessels or at alert nearby. Some played cards, some wrote the last letter home, some were making repeated equipment checks and some prayed, but they were ready. Ye3s, they were fearful that they might never see either England or America again, but they knew what they had to do and had accepted their fate. You can bet the chaplains were busy, moving about and checking with all the men, seeking to offer a word of God's comfort to those needing it. Even some who thought themselves to be unbelievers and thought of themselves as tough guys asked for prayer with a chaplain and it strengthened them.
Finally, late in the day they were given the go, and the ships and boats slowly started moving out of the harbors, waiting at the rendezvous point, before crossing the Channel toward their destiny the next morning. The transport planes took off with their passengers from the Airborne, to be inserted behind enemy lines in France with a mission to destroy the big guns that would on the following morning be raining huge shells down on the incoming soldiers below the Normandy bluffs. No, it wasn't the Longest Day nor was it a night of massive death tolls although the Airborne troops on the ground lost some men and also killed others and even more were shot out of the sky or their planes went down. It was, however, the end of the training, the end of the waiting and, although not determined until later, the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany. So, it's worthy of remembrance and it is from this point that I will continue tomorrow addressing what many still call today by that just mentioned moniker, "The Longest Day." I hope it might help each of us to understand the sacrifice these brave souls made for us and just how critical it was to succeed for, who knows, otherwise we might be speaking German right now.
Have a blessed day. God bless America and with the help of new heroes when needed like these from the past may we ever be free.