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D-Day

On June 6, 1944, the United States and its allies launched the greatest amphibious invasion in history on the shores of France. Over 150,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen stormed the beaches of Normandy beginning a campaign that would end with the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, as Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces during World War II, played an active and decisive role in determining strategy. In his ongoing discussions with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and with the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, he steadily promoted the invasion of the European continent to liberate it from Hitler’s Germany that finally began on D-Day.

On the night of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt went on national radio to address the American people for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer.

D-Day Prayer

The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, President Roosevelt had made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time. When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: “Last night, when I spoke to you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.”

D-Day Prayer Audio Recording: (http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/avclips.html)

Find more documents and photos from the FDR Library collections: (http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/04DDHOME.HTML)

Oil painting “View from Command Post in Normandy” (MO 1945.83.1)

On June 6, 1944, the United States and its allies launched the greatest amphibious invasion in history on the shores of France. Over 150,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen stormed the beaches of Normandy beginning a campaign that would end with the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945. The Allied invasion of Normandy, code-named Overlord, was a complex endeavor involving armed forces from many nations, with Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Supreme Allied Commander.

The fortified German stronghold at Pointe du Hoc – situated between Utah Beach and Omaha Beach – was among the most important Allied targets on D-Day. The U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion was given the daunting task of scaling the 100 foot cliff at Pointe du Hoc and destroying the five German 155 mm guns believed to be there. After scaling the cliff under heavy fire, the Rangers discovered that the guns had been moved inland. The Rangers sent out patrols, discovered the guns unattended, and disabled them.

Lieutenant Frederick S. Wight of the U.S. Navy was appointed to make drawings of the Normandy beaches during the Overlord operation. Lieutenant Wight made sketches from Pointe du Hoc while the Allied beachhead was still under fire, completing the drawings aboard ship in the English Channel.

This oil painting is one result of Wight’s work during the invasion. The painting shows a view from the Pointe du Hoc command post through a narrow horizontal slit in a reinforced concrete wall. The observer looks out towards the English Channel at the U.S. battleship Texas firing at Pointe du Hoc and the U.S. destroyer Harding coming inshore to bombard from close range. The painting was presented to President Roosevelt by Lieutenant George M. Elsey in the White House Map Room on behalf of the artist on September 7, 1944.

 

June 6, 1944: FDR announces the D-Day invasion.

D-Day Prayer, pg1

 

D-Day Prayer, pg2

Click here to listen to the D-Day prayer on our website.

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Did you know:

  • On June 2, 1938 FDR addressed the graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD.
  • On June 5, 1942 FDR signed a joint resolution of a state of war between the U.S. and Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria.

June 6, 1944: FDR announces the D-Day invasion.

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