The “Great Crusade” of D-Day

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Normandy Beach

Today, 75 years ago, Allied armies stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, to begin the final liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny.

In March 2017, I was truly humbled and blessed to visit Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. It is an overwhelming place. I burst into tears before I even saw the water.  I walked along the beach, and the hollowed out German bunkers.  It was incomprehensible to me that I was on ground upon which so many thousands of young men—men younger than I was (I was 29 at the time)—had been brutally killed.  They were fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, and they would never return home.

Omaha Beach (Selfie from the beach)

The American cemetery at Omaha Beach is especially moving.  Lines and lines of mostly crosses, and a few Stars of David, unavoidably arouse a knot in the throat.  It is a place where silence reigns, for words, far from adding, are far more likely to detract from the sacred nature of the place.

One side of the cemetery had the following words engraved in stone: “To these we owe the high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live.”

What a gut punch that delivers, especially in light of the cultural disintegration of the modern West. 

Omaha Beach (German Bunker)

No words of mine can say much about D-Day that hasn’t already been said.  But I would like to showcase some truly incredible words from both the Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the occasion of the invasion.  They both clearly understood the fight against Nazi Germany in religious terms—as a fight for all that is good in the heritage of the Christian West.

Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would go on to become President of the United States, issued this Order of the Day prior to the D-Day invasion:

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 hope 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 will 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 beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered the following prayer in a national radio broadcast on June 6, 1944, after the initial invasion had already succeeded in establishing several beachheads:

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with 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.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home—fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas—whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them—help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

…I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts…

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

May we in the West today become worthy of our ancestors.  Because right now—we are not.

Joshua Charles