June 6, 1944: The Great Crusade

 

 

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

(Signed, ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower’) (more…)

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May 22, 1958: Earliest Known Color Videotaping

 

The things you find on the internet!  The earliest color videotaping that has survived was performed on May 22, 1958 and featured President Eisenhower dedicating the color television studio of NBC.

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Eisenhower on Lee

 

 

Hattip to Michael W. Lively.  It has become fashionable to denigrate Robert E. Lee and to call for the removal of all statues honoring him.  57 years ago President Dwight Eisenhower answered such an attack:

 

August 1, 1960
Mr. Dwight D. Eisenhower
White House
Washington, D.C. 

Dear Mr. President: 

At the Republication Convention I heard you mention that you have the pictures of four (4) great Americans in your office, and that included in these is a picture of Robert E. Lee. 

I do not understand how any American can include Robert E. Lee as a person to be emulated, and why the President of the United States of America should do so is certainly beyond me. 

The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did, was to devote his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of being held as one of our heroes. 

Will you please tell me just why you hold him in such high esteem? 

Sincerely yours,

Leon W. Scott

Eisenhower responded: (more…)

Published in: on August 8, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Eisenhower on Lee  
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Ike On Film

Considering that Eisenhower was in charge of the greatest American military effort, and a two term President, there have been surprisingly few film depictions of him.

 

1.The Longest Day (1962)

Hands down the best portrayal of Eisenhower is that of Henry Grace.  Grace wasn’t an actor.  He was an award winning set decorator.  However, he was Eisenhower’s doppelganger and his performance was the next best thing to having Eisenhower portray himself.

 

 

2. Ike: The War Years (1979)

Robert Duvall as Eisenhower gives his usual riveting performance.  The late Lee Remick  gives a good performance as Captain Kay Summersby, the British driver/secretary assigned to Eisenhower.  Unfortunately the miniseries centers around the relationship of Eisenhower and Summersby, a relationship which is subject to historical dispute.  Duvall looks nothing like Eisenhower, a problem for any actor assaying the role, since Eisenhower’s face is very familiar to most Americans, at least it was at the time this miniseries was first shown.  The entire series can be found on Youtube, and the soap opera elements aside it is worth viewing.

3.  Last Days of Patton (1986)

The late Richard Dysart, who looked a bit like Ike, gives a good workmanlike performance as Eisenhower, showing a bit of the Eisenhower temper, that was usually well-concealed in public but was quite evident behind the scenes.  George C. Scott, as in his 1970 biopic of Patton, is mesmerizing.  This was the second outing for Dysart as Eisenhower, as he had also portrayed the General in the British miniseries Churchill and His Generals (1979).

4.  Dieppe (1993)

The late Marc Strange gives a workmanlike performance in this Canadian miniseries on the Dieppe raid in 1942 which was valuable as an example of how not to conduct an amphibious landing in occupied France.

 

5.  Ike: Countdown to D-Day (2004)

Tom Selleck gives a very good portrayal of Eisenhower in the days leading up to D-Day.  The video does a first rate job of portraying the problems that Eisenhower confronted:  getting prima donnas like Montgomery and Patton to work as a part of a team, concerns about the weather, the deception campaign to convince the Nazis that Calais would be the invasion site, etc.  The video also shines a light on the weight of responsibility which Eisenhower bore, especially when we see him write out a note just before the invasion taking full responsibility on his shoulders if it failed.  Like Duvall, Selleck looks nothing like Eisenhower, less of a problem each passing year and due to the rampant historical ignorance among too many Americans for their nation’s past.  This film can also be found on Youtube.

6.  The Butler (2013)

 

The late Robin Williams is horribly miscast as President Eisenhower.  He did a better job as Theodore Roosevelt in the Night in the Museum flicks.

7.  Churchill (2017)

This was a dreadful picture, completely ahistoric, and John Slattery’s performance as Eisenhower was no exception.  By far the worst portrayal of Eisenhower on film.

Published in: on June 9, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Ike On Film  
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June 12, 1945: Guildhall Address By Eisenhower

Seventy years ago General Eisenhower was honored at the Guildhall in London by being presented with a ceremonial sword and being made an honorary Londoner.  His speech, that he gave without notes, is quite eloquent and belies his usual reputation of being a poor public speaker.  It deserves to be better known and here is the text of the speech:

 

The high sense of distinction I feel in receiving this great honor from the city of London is inescapably mingled with feelings of profound sadness. All of us must always regret that your country and mine were ever faced with the tragic situation that compelled the appointment of an Allied Commander-in-Chief, the capacity in which I have just been so extravagantly commended.

 

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends. Conceivably a commander may have been professionally superior. He may have given everything of his heart and mind to meet the spiritual and physical needs of his comrades. He may have written a chapter that will glow forever in the pages of military history. Still, even such a man, if he existed, would sadly face the fact that his honors cannot hide in his memories the crosses marking the resting places of the dead. They cannot soothe the anguish of the widow or the orphan whose husband or whose father will not return.

 

The only attitude in which a commander may with satisfaction receive the tributes of his friends is a humble acknowledgement that, no matter how unworthy he may be, his position is a symbol of great human forces that have labored arduously and successfully for a righteous cause. Unless he feels this symbolism and this rightness in what he has tried to do, then he is disregardful of the courage, the fortitude and the devotion of the vast multitudes he has been honored to command. If all the allied men and women that have served with me in this war can only know that it is they this august body is really honoring today, then, indeed, will I be content. (more…)

Published in: on June 12, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 12, 1945: Guildhall Address By Eisenhower  
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D-Day: Seventy-Five Years Ago

 

Seventy-Five years ago what General Eisenhower called The Great Crusade began:

 

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

 

In the event D-Day did not fail. 2,499 Americans and 1,915 from Great Britain, Canada and the other Allied Powers, paid the ultimate price for the victory gained that day.  They deserve to be remembered for helping to remove a terrible evil from the world three-quarters of a century ago.

 

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Eisenhower and MacArthur-The Command Team That Never Was

quote-eisenhower-was-the-best-clerk-i-ever-had-douglas-macarthur-307914

Two of the five men who have held the rank of General of the Army, Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, could be quite acerbic in their assessments of each other.  MacArthur in 1947 referred to Eisenhower as the best clerk he ever had, and Eisenhower was fond of saying that he studied dramatics under MacArthur.  Both assessments had a fair amount of truth.  Eisenhower was the consummate military manager, but he lacked almost all skill as a commander of forces in combat.  His one taste of such command, in North Africa, produced distinctly lackluster results.  As for MacArthur he was overly dramatic, a penchant that played well in the Victorian world in which he was born, but often seemed ludicrous by World War II.

It is intriguing to speculate about what sort of command team they would have made if they had served together in World War II.  As Chief of Staff for MacArthur, Eisenhower would have been indispensable in making the most of the resources that MacArthur got at the tail end of a very long supply chain.  His skill at diplomacy would have smoothed the ruffled feathers of Presidents, as well as the often stormy relations that MacArthur had with the Navy and the Australians.  MacArthur would have contributed the streak of strategic and operational brilliance that Eisenhower sorely lacked. (more…)

Published in: on June 5, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Eisenhower and MacArthur-The Command Team That Never Was  
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September 23, 1952: Checkers Speech

The  “Checkers Speech” given by Richard Nixon which allowed him to stay on the ticket as Vice-President on September 23, 1952.  The speech got its name from Nixon’s use of the pet dog given to his daughters, Checkers, to gain sympathy by stating that the girls had gotten fond of the dog and he would not return it.  The speech was classic Nixon:  go on the offensive, self-pitying, maudlin and oh so effective.  Nixon was never a great orator, but until Watergate he never lost the touch of appealing to the average American.  His high brow, usually left wing, critics savaged him, but Nixon never forgot that the purpose of a political speech is  persuasion.

 

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A classic anti-Nixon poster asked if you would buy a used car from him.  For most of his career, Nixon could have sold a car with a shot transmission and four bald tires to to a substantial segment of the American population and they would have thanked him for it.  Whence this power?  I think Nixon early tapped into the resentment that a growing number of average Americans had toward the chattering classes that were rapidly losing touch with them, and looked down on them.  That Nixon privately shared many of the views of the chattering classes that despised him as the ultimate enemy is one of the greater ironies of American political life during Nixon’s career.

 

The “Checkers Speech” will always be remembered for this peroration:

One other thing I probably should tell you because if we don’t they’ll probably be saying this about me too, we did get something—a gift—after the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl—Tricia, the 6-year-old—named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.

 

 

(more…)

Published in: on September 23, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 23, 1952: Checkers Speech  
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May 1, 1959: First Loyalty Day

 

 

One of the more obscure annual observances in the US, and its obscurity is to be lamented, began 59 years ago:

 

By the President of the United States of America
A ProclamationWhereas loyalty to the United States of America, its democratic traditions and institutions, and the liberties embodied in our Constitution is essential to the preservation of our freedoms in a world threatened by totalitarianism; and

Whereas it is fitting and proper that we reaffirm by special observance our loyalty to our country and our gratitude for the precious heritage of freedom and liberty under law; and

Whereas the Congress, by a joint resolution of July 18, 1958 (72 Stat. 369), has designated May 1 of each year as Loyalty Day, and has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the people of the United States, and upon all patriotic, civic, educational, and other interested organizations, to observe Friday, May 1, 1959, as Loyalty Day, in schools and other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies in which all of our people may join in the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and the renewal of their dedication to the concepts of the freedom and dignity of man.

I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on that day.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this eighteenth day of April in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-third.


DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

By the President:
ROBERT MURPHY,
Acting Secretary of State

Presidents still issue Loyalty Day Proclamations, although that seems to be the only noteworthy observation of the day.  I wish we had the loyalty to this country that most of the men who fought in the Crusade in Europe, as Eisenhower called it, had.

 

Published in: on May 1, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 1, 1959: First Loyalty Day  
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The Great Crusade

 

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

Published in: on June 9, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Great Crusade  
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