The Great Crusade

Published: June 6, 2024

By Jim Lichtman
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National Archives

After the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Franklin Roosevelt declared, “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”

Eighty years ago, hours before the D-Day invasion, Allied General Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his Order of the Day.

“Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon a Great Crusade. . . 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.”

After 416,000 US military deaths on land and sea, the Greatest Generation’s skill, duty, devotion, courage, and righteous might had won a decisive victory over the totalitarianism of Nazi Germany followed by victory over Japan.

Today, many of the last survivors of that day, along with family, friends, and leaders from around the world gather along the shores of Normandy, France to remember what was at stake and to honor the men and women who turned the tide of war.

Eighty years ago, soldiers fought and died alongside one another, regardless of their race, creed, or political beliefs. Democracy vanquished authoritarianism.

Sergeant John Slaughter, a veteran of Omaha Beach, wrote, “That whole decade was shot through with the war, even though most of us tried hard to forget it. And for a long time, I did forget about the war. Then, it all started coming back to me, and I wanted to remember. And when I did, I was proud—proud of myself and my whole generation for what we had done.”

Eighty years from now, what will be remembered of the battle that continues to rage on our own shores? Will we summon the duty, courage, and righteous might to overcome the threats and obstacles before us? Let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.


  1. War is horrible! No one wins. Think of all the parents, spouses, children and others who are traumatized. Talk before you act…I hope we can all move beyond killing one another.

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