GENERAL EISENHOWER’S TWO STATEMENTS

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GENERAL EISENHOWER’STWO STATEMENTSAnalyzing Primary Source DocumentsBACKGROUND: On June 5, 1944, General Eisenhower put the finishing touches on two statements.He delivered one speech to a courageous audience of citizen-soldiers about to face what was likely thegreatest challenge of their lives. The other, thankfully, turned out to be unnecessary. Nevertheless, bothstatements reveal important attributes of leadership in a self-governing republic. The first is a publicstatement and the second was a private statement. Both demonstrate that Eisenhower was willing to takeresponsibility for the great undertaking of D-Day. It was the virtue of responsibility of leadership in arepublic shaped by a moral vision of why they were fighting.1. Orders of the Day, June 6, 1944Supreme HeadquartersAllied Expeditionary ForceSoldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the AlliedExpeditionary Force!You are about to embark on the Great Crusade,toward which we have striven these many months.The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes andprayers of liberty-loving people everywhere marchwith you. In company with our brave Allies andbrothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bringabout the destruction of the German war machine,the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressedpeoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in afree world.Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemyis well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened.He will fight savagely.But this is the year 1944! Much has happenedsince the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The UnitedNations have inflicted upon the Germans greatdefeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our airoffensive has seriously reduced their strength in theair and their capacity to wage war on the ground.HEROES & VILLAINS: THE QUEST FOR CIVIC VIRTUEOur Home Fronts have given us an overwhelmingsuperiority in weapons and munitions of war, andplaced at our disposal great reserves of trainedfighting men. The tide has turned! The free men ofthe world are marching together to Victory!I have full confidence in your courage, devotionto duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothingless than full Victory!Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessingof Almighty God upon this great and nobleundertaking.DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER2. “In Case of Failure” Letter“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area havefailed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I havewithdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at thistime and place was based upon the best informationavailable. The troops, the air and the Navy did allthat Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If anyblame or fault attaches to the attempt it is minealone.”JUNE 5

Discussion GuideDirections: Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).1. Orders of the Day June 6, 1944a. In the speech he delivered to the members of the Allied Expeditionary Force, what reasons forconfidence did Eisenhower express? Why is it important for a leader in a self-governing republicto express confidence in those he leads and a moral vision of the purposes of their fighting ?b. What, if anything, surprises you about this speech?3. “In Case of Failure” LetterHow does the “In Case of Failure” Letter help demonstrate Eisenhower’s commitment to responsibilityin a self-governing republic?4. What similarities and differences do you note between the two letters? THE BILL OF RIGHTS INSTITUTE

RESPONSIBILITYGeneral Dwight D. Eisenhower TakesResponsibility for D-Day InvasionDuring the evening of June 2, 1944, SupremeCommander, Allied Expeditionary Force,General Dwight D. Eisenhower met with WinstonChurchill, British General Bernard Montgomery,and other military commanders at Alliedheadquarters in England. They were discussingand planning Overlord invasion of Normandy,which was scheduled to launch in a few days.D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion inhistory, and Eisenhower had overseen the highlycomplex military and intelligence preparations forthe past six months. The objective of D-Day was toestablish an immediate beachhead in order to beginthe liberation of Nazi-occupied France. Ultimately,the Allies would fight their way through Franceand into Germany, forcing Germany’s surrender inWorld War II.President Franklin D. Roosevelt had good reasonto choose Eisenhower to be Supreme Commanderthe previous December. Eisenhower had masteredthe art of working well with allies and had gainedvaluable experience commanding the Allied invasion of Northern Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Eisenhower alsofollowed a code of moral responsibility in leadership.He believed a leader mustbe “self-effacing, quickto give credit, ready tomeet the other fellowmore than half-way,must seek to absorb advice . . . When the timecomes that he feels heHEROES & VILLAINS: THE QUEST FOR CIVIC VIRTUEmust make a decision, he must make it in a cleancut fashion and on his own responsibility and takefull blame for anything that goes wrong whether ornot it results from his mistake.” The D-Day invasion would put that leadership to the test.Eisenhower felt the heavy responsibilities ofcommand for the invasion. The Allies would haveonly one attempt to invade northern France. Ifthe attack failed due to circumstances beyond hiscontrol (such as the weather) or if the soldiersfailed to dislodge the Nazi enemy from the beaches,the successful outcome of the war would be greatlyjeopardized. Moreover, the certain deaths ofthousands of young men from across America andthe British Empire haunted him and caused himgreat anxiety.After dinner, Eisenhower and his generals gathered in the study where they received a distressing weather report that a storm was blowing in andwould delay the invasion. Eisenhower confided tohis diary that he felt great stress. “Probably no onewho does not have to bear the specific anddirect responsibility of making the final decision as to what to do canunderstand the intensity ofthese burdens.”Eisenhowerreceivedsimilar weather reportsduring the next two daysthat further postponedthe attack. Eisenhowerwas more frustrated thanever because if the attackdid not go off in the next

two days, it would have to wait at least two weeksfor the right combination of moonlight, tides, andweather. Much could happen in the course of thewar in a two-week span, and every day the warcontinued brought much death and misery. Withso many lives at stake, he had to be patient enoughnot to force the attack. But, with victory on the line,he had to be bold enough to seize any opportunity.Eisenhower tried to relax but strained under theawful burdens of command.During the evening of June 4, the predictedstorm slammed headquarters with driving wind andrain. Just as his hope was melting away, Eisenhowerreceived a favorable weather report that wouldgive him a small window to launch the attack. Heonly had half an hour in which to make the fatefuldecision. It was the most important decision of hislife, and the course of the war hinged on it. He wasquiet as he privately deliberated for several minutes.The decision was his alone to make. Finally, theSupreme Commander said, “I am quite positive wemust give the order. I don’t like it but there it is . . .I don’t see how we can do anything else.”Eisenhower had an opportunity to revisit hisdecision the following morning with one finalweather report and last-minute discussion withhis generals. He again paced the floor and silentlyconsidered the questions for five minutes. He brokehis reverie, looked up, and said, “Okay. We’ll go.”The invasion began that night.Eisenhower wrote out a message during the daythat demonstrated his character. In an incredibleact of moral courage, he took responsibility incase the invasion failed. He could have blamed athousand factors beyond his control, but instead heshouldered the entire responsibility.“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area havefailed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I havewithdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at thistime and place was based upon the best informationavailable. The troops, the air, and the Navy didall that bravery and devotion to duty could do. Ifany blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is minealone,” he wrote.During the evening before the attack, he visitedwith the troops of the 101st Airborne, lookedthem in the eye, spoke with them, learned theirnames, and bolstered their morale. Eisenhoweralso sent a message to all of the invading Alliedforces to encourage them as they prepared assaultGerman defenses. The leader of the Allied forcesof the free world did not shrink from his duty andresponsibility of leadership.On June 6, 1944, the invasion succeededin establishing a beachhead for Allied troops.Eisenhower did not have to publish the message inhis pocket, but he still felt the awful responsibilityof every soldier who died invading France todestroy the Nazi scourge. His assistant, Lt. Gen.Walter Bedell Smith, finally understood theawesome responsibility of command that spring.“I never realized before the loneliness and isolationof a commander at a time when such a momentousdecision has to be taken, with the full knowledgethat failure or success rests on his judgment alone.”Dwight Eisenhower rose to that occasion withcharacter and greatness.Defining Civic Virtues: ResponsibilityTo strive to know and to do what is best rather than what is mostpopular. To be trustworthy for making decisions in the best longterm interests of the people and the tasks of which one is in charge. THE BILL OF RIGHTS INSTITUTE

Primary Source Discussion Questions1. What important qualities of leadership characterized Dwight Eisenhower?2. What were some of the risks associated with the D-Day invasion?3. Why did Eisenhower feel a sense of urgency about the early June target date for the invasion?4. Based on the information in the narrative, how do we know that Eisenhower took hisresponsibilities as Supreme Commander seriously?5. Explain Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith’s statement: “I never realized before the loneliness andisolation of a commander at a time when such a momentous decision has to be taken, with the fullknowledge that failure or success rests on his judgment alone.”HEROES & VILLAINS: THE QUEST FOR CIVIC VIRTUE

Virtue In ActionVirtuous leadership requires that a leader take responsibility when things go wrong andshare credit when things go well.If you are a captain of a team sport, always encourage the members of the team to bemagnanimous in victory and recognize everyone’s contributions, and learn lessons from a defeatrather than blaming anyone.Always be ready to admit that you made a mistake and learn from it, rather than trying tocover it up or blame others.If you are the leader of any club or activity at school, think about ways that you can modelresponsible leadership and how you can provide a vision for successfully achieving goalstogether.Sources &FurtherReadingAmbrose, Stephen. Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 18901952. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.D’Este, Carlo. Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life. New York: Henry Holt, 2002.Eisenhower, David. Eisenhower at War, 1943-1945. New York: Random House,1986.Eisenhower, Dwight D. Crusade in Europe. 1948.Johnson, Paul. Eisenhower: A Life. New York: Viking, 2014.Korda, Michael. Ike: An American Hero. New York: Harper, 2007.Perret, Geoffrey. Eisenhower. New York: Random House, 1999.Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace. New York: Random House,2012. THE BILL OF RIGHTS INSTITUTE

ResponsibilityDirectionsNAME:DATE:Why is it important for a leader to govern according to a moral vision of liberty andself-government and to take responsibility for decisions in a republic of self-governing citizens? What could happen in a self-governing society if leaders rule for theirown benefit and refuse to accept responsibility for poor decisions?“Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of hisfollowers and sacrifices of his friends.”–DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER THE BILL OF RIGHTS INSTITUTE