I’m sorry that I didn’t have a chance to post on D-Day yesterday. On June 6th, 1944, a group of men braved the Atlantic seawall to ensure that freedom could prevail. Many did not return. For their bravery, their progeny were given freedom and an opportunity to dream of a more perfect world. It is worth thinking about whether we have honored their sacrifice.
I personally love history. Many people think that history is some sort of albatross–that it doesn’t apply to their lives because it is the history of people a long time ago. Untrue. Dwight Eisenhower’s forgotten message meant for release if D-Day failed teaches us a powerful lesson about duty and accountability.
Eisenhower wrote in his message to be released:
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air [force] and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.
His first draft said, “the troops have been withdrawn” as if some awesome third party god was making a decision. But Eisenhower scribbled out those words, and pressed on. He took personal responsibility for making an all but impossible decision and he took full personal responsibility for failure, even when there were other a hundred other scapegoats–the weather, the planners, the intelligence corps. In our modern life, we do a lot of CYA. D-Day, the men who lead it, and the men who died fighting it remind us an ideal worthy of consideration.
h/t Paul Fussell (The Story of War).