Did you know that no one is sure what Eisenhower actually said on June 4 to launch the invasion?
Eyewitnesses to Ike’s historic decision could not agree on what he actually said. Was it “Well, we’ll go” or “All right, we move” or “OK, boys, we will go.”
Even Eisenhower himself was not consistent in his recollections of what he said. In a 1964 article for Paris Match, he recalled that he said: “We will attack tomorrow.”
Tim Rives, deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, tells the full story of the these lost words in Prologue magazine.
In this photograph, General Dwight D. Eisenhower talks with paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division in Newbury, England, on June 5, 1944, prior to their departure to drop behind enemy lines as part of the D-Day invasion. The soldier with a “23” tag was a fellow Kansan, Lt. Wallace C. Strobel.
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 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.
D-day statement to soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force, 6/44, Collection DDE-EPRE: Eisenhower, Dwight D: Papers, Pre-Presidential, 1916-1952; Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
#DDay70 D-Day -1:
General Dwight D. Eisenhower meets with U.S. paratroopers in England, just before they board their airplanes to participate in the first assault in the invasion of the continent of Europe, the Normandy Invasion., 06/05/1944
From the series: Official Army Photographs, 1942 - 1969
The “D-Day + 70 Years” commemorative weekend will kick off on Friday, June 6, with a Remembrance Ceremony and rifle salute. There will also be tours with the Library staff and you can meet historical reenactors.
WWII-era military equipment and vehicles will be on display throughout the library grounds, including a Sherman tank, tank destroyer, half track, jeeps, and a motorcycle.
Saturday events will begin with the film “D-Day Plus 20 Years: Eisenhower returns to Normandy.” The afternoon features panel discussions sharing stories of those on the home front and on the battlefields. Award-winning biographer and historian Nigel Hamilton will also discuss this important anniversary.
A C-47 will fly over Saturday evening around 5 p.m. More than 1,000 C-47s dropped paratroopers behind enemy lines as part of Operation Overlord. The aircraft will be on view at the Abilene Municipal Airport.
The third annual Symphony at Sunset D-Day Commemoration Concert begins at 7 p.m. Admission is a $5 minimum suggested donation. (There’s no charge for children ages 12 and under). The 1st Infantry Division Band will perform the opening act, followed at 8:30 p.m. with the headline performance by the Salina Symphony.
Image: D-Day equipment on display the Eisenhower Presidential Library via the @IkeLibrary instagram.
In 1943, General Eisenhower sat down to write a letter to Ruth Eisenhower, the 4 year old daughter of his younger brother Milton.
In reply to a double-sided sheet of penciled “waves” addressed to “Uncle Ike” and signed “Ruthie,” Eisenhower wrote: “I enjoyed your letter. I know exactly what you said. I am astonished that you have made such progress since last I saw you. Since I cannot write as well as you do, I will have to have this done on the typewriter so your Mother may have to read it to you.” 4/6/43.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Eisenhower Reaches out to the Russian People
On March 4, 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower drafted this statement for the Russian people while Joseph Stalin was gravely ill. Stalin died the next day on March 5, 1953.
Draft statement by President Eisenhower on Joseph Stalin, 03/04/1953
San Franciscans Give Their Heart to De Gaulle
While French President François Hollande arrives in San Francisco today, our colleagues at historyatstate take us back to April 1960 when Charles de Gaulle paid the city its first official visit by a President of France:
French President Charles de Gaulle made his first State Visit as head of the Fifth Republic in April 1960. De Gaulle’s trip aimed to improve relations between the two countries after diverging policy objectives in the 1950s strained the relationship. Moreover, it was hoped that better acquainting U.S. policymakers with the French president could facilitate the bilateral relationship in the future. Lastly, the trip provided an opportunity for de Gaulle and President Dwight Eisenhower to prepare for the May 1960 joint summit meeting in Paris with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev.
De Gaulle and his wife, Yvonne, arrived in Washington, D.C., on April 22 for four days of meetings, a speech in front of a joint session of Congress, and a state dinner. Eisenhower first met de Gaulle 18 years earlier during the Second World War and the two men forged a firm friendship over the years. Thus, a visit to Eisenhower’s farmhouse in Gettysburg, PA, was part of de Gaulle’s itinerary.
The trip was also notable as the first time that a French head of state paid a formal visit to San Francisco and New Orleans. On April 26, the de Gaulles went to New York, then flew to San Francisco on April 27, where an estimated 250,000 San Franciscans lined the streets of de Gaulle’s motorcade route from the San Francisco International Airport to City Hall.1 The San Francisco police estimated the welcome to be “the biggest ever given here to the head of a foreign state.”2 Among his engagements that day, de Gaulle met with California Governor Edmund G. Brown and toured the bay before spending April 28-29 in New Orleans. The de Gaulles were accompanied around the United States by Department of State Under Secretary Douglas Dillon, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France from 1953 through 1957.
View the video retrospective of French presidential visits to the United States via France’s Institut National Audovisuel (INA).
Eisenhower’s “Military-Industrial Complex” Speech Origins and Significance
Given on January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address, known for its warnings about the growing power of the “military-industrial complex,” was nearly two years in the making. This Inside the Vaults video short follows newly discovered papers revealing that Eisenhower was deeply involved in crafting the speech, which was to become one of the most famous in American history. The papers were discovered by the family of Eisenhower speechwriter Malcolm Moos and donated to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Eisenhower Library director Karl Weissenbach and presidential historian and Foundation for the National Archives board member Michael Beschloss discuss the evolution of the speech.
Need that perfect drink for your New Year’s Eve celebration? Try Ike’s Five-Star Bourbon Egg Nog:
Ike’s Bourbon Egg Nog
Our Presidents is celebrating the holiday season with First Family foods! We’ll be serving up festive Presidential recipes and White House menus all month long.
To whet your appetite, here’s Dwight D. Eisenhower’s recipe for Egg Nog. The former President and Five Star General made some serious stuff — scaled to serve a small army of revelers. Make sure you’ve got a quart of bourbon and a pound of sugar on hand!
Ike was an avid cook and kept a personal collection of favorite recipes. These were either typed by his staff or clipped from newspapers and magazines. Take a look at more recipes from Ike’s cookbook here.
"Atoms for Peace"
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was determined to solve “the fearful atomic dilemma” by finding some way by which “the miraculous inventiveness of man” would not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life. In his Atoms for Peace speech before the United Nations General Assembly on December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower sought to solve this terrible problem by suggesting a means to transform the atom from a scourge into a benefit for mankind.
“Atoms For Peace" posters From the series: Propaganda Posters Distributed in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, ca. 1950 - ca. 1965. From the Records of the U.S. Information Agency
On the Great American Smokeout—
“Did President Eisenhower smoke in the White House?”
This “Ask an Archivist” question from the Eisenhower Presidential Library comes from New York.
President Eisenhower gave up smoking in 1949 by his own force of will. He would not take up residence in the White House until 1953.
Eisenhower’s strategy for “kicking the habit” is revealed in a 1951 letter to a personal friend.
“Actually, I think the whole thing is far more psychological than it is physical – if you can succeed in throwing out of your mind any feeling of self-pity or privation or hardship, I think that you will be amazed how quickly you accustom yourself to a new regime. In my own case, I adopted the habit of feeling just a bit sorry for people who had this fault and so I attained a slight feeling of superiority. My ability to sneer, internally, I nursed to the utmost.”
Photo: General Eisenhower at Camp Kilauea, Hawaii. U.S. Army. 5/17/46.
"A person cannot be a true American and not believe in equal rights."
Letter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from Teenager Dana Anderson Regarding Equal Rights, 09/29/1957
Happy 55th Birthday NASA!
On July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 which “provided for research into the
problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere” and
established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).