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Seventy-five years ago, Operation Overlord was launched, opening a third land front in the strategic counteroffensive against Nazi Germany. The Germans were already reeling back from their high-water mark in the east (Stalingrad), and had squandered the cream of their veteran force in the Battle of Kursk during the summer of 1943. Predominantly American forces were slowly slugging their way up the length of Italy, where terrain favored competent defenders. It was finally time to open a western front with the sort of maneuver room found on the eastern front. We ought to pay tribute now, while there are still veterans of that great crusade with us.
The note here, dated July 5, was written by General Eisenhower, in case the D-Day landings failed. He praised “the troops, the air, and the navy,” and took total responsibility for the failure: “If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.” His message was ready for transmission to the Allied nations. Mercifully, it never needed to be sent.
Calling out the deeds and identities of World War II heroes, both lost and living, is especially fitting on this, “The Last Longest Day.”