Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Watching "Eisenhower" on A&E (a great movie if you can rent it or have cable), I recall the part where Eisenhower was debriefing all of the relative leaders of the "free". He tells them that his plan could see almost 70% casualties. There was a pause from his audience at that statement before approval was given. The entire war hinged on that decision.

After four and a half long years of war, OEF and OIF, (nearly the same amount of time prior to the D-Day invasion), having read the names of our fallen and the brief biographies about where they are from, who they were as people and the stories of their families, this picture and Eisenhower's decision to go down to the troops and talk with them, I think I finally understand what Eisenhower was doing. This was no simple morale booster or photo op. Just looking at Eisenhower's posture and his ease with talking to the soldiers belies that connotation.

When Eisenhower is talking to the troops, he brushes aside formality and asks them to tell him their names. Not "Private Cantinelli"; he wanted their first names and where they were from. He wanted to know that this soldier was not just some piece of meat in a uniform and grease paint. He wanted to know the personal: Joe from Dayton, Ohio.

Eisenhower had to know as he shook their hands and listened to their stories that two out of every ten men would be dead or severely injured by the end of that mission. I don't think he did it to flagellate himself with, but because these men were his; they were someone's family and they were going to die. But, without them, the free world could not be saved. What a tremendous burden must have been Gen. Eisenhower at that moment. Not that he would dwell on it prior to the mission. I think the purpose was two fold:

1) To remind himself that these were real men and to make sure that he did everything to give them a fighting chance against the enemy.

2) Later, when he was alone, he would remember their names and faces and reflect on the terribleness of war.

89,000 Dead
420,000 Wounded and Missing

We really have no idea what it was like.

We owe.

Veterans oral history of D-Day

Combat Video

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