Seventy-eight years ago, some very nervous young (and not so young) men were boarding boats in England in preparation for an invasion of France. My father was one of the men who landed at Utah Beach.
A website called allthatsinteresting reports:
Brig. Gen. Teddy Roosevelt Jr. — the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt — landed with the first wave of soldiers at Utah Beach. After personally scouting the area, he determined that their location was better, as there were fewer German defenses.
“We’ll start the war from right here!” he stated, and he rerouted the rest of the landings to his location.
Roosevelt led the 8th Infantry despite using a cane – he had arthritis and a bad heart. Maj. Gen. Barton, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division, later recalled meeting Roosevelt on the beach:
While I was mentally framing [orders], Ted Roosevelt came up. He had landed with the first wave, had put my troops across the beach, and had a perfect picture (just as Roosevelt had earlier promised if allowed to go ashore with the first wave) of the entire situation. I loved Ted. When I finally agreed to his landing with the first wave, I felt sure he would be killed. When I had bade him goodbye, I never expected to see him alive. You can imagine then the emotion with which I greeted him when he came out to meet me [near La Grande Dune]. He was bursting with information.
That’s called courage and leadership.
A website called business insider posted the following in 2012:
On this day 68 years ago, nearly 3 million Allied troops readied themselves for one of the greatest military operations of world history.
D-Day. And the push that led to Hitler’s defeat.
At least 160,000 of those troops landed on the shores of Normandy, France. As they stormed the beaches, General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s confident words summed up the incredible significance of their mission:
“You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you,” he wrote in a famous letter sent to troops before the assault.
“We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good Luck!”
But there was another letter General Eisenhower wrote in case the operation failed:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Great leaders accept responsibility for their failures as well as their successes.