June 6 is a day to remember not only the men and women who made our success on the Normandy beaches possible, but all who've served in our military and their families.
We owe them our freedoms.It's also a day to remember success on those beaches was the result of an allied effort.
June 6 is therefore a day to remember to remember as well our WW II allies and the allies who now fight side-by-side with America for the freedoms that are the essential and most important elements of Western Civilization.
On D-Day Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. led the 4th Infantry Division ashore on Utah Beach. Let's recall what he did. It will help us appreciate the service and sacrifaces of those who fought that day.
From his Wikipedia biography - - -
In February 1944, Roosevelt was assigned to England to help lead the Normandy invasion. He was assigned as assistant division commander of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division.
After several verbal requests to the division's commanding officer, Maj. General "Tubby" Barton, were denied, Roosevelt sent a written petition:
- The force and skill with which the first elements hit the beach and proceed may determine the ultimate success of the operation... With troops engaged for the first time, the behavior pattern of all is apt to be set by those first engageds. [It is] considered that accurate information of the existing situation should be available for each succeeding element as it lands. You should have when you get to shore an overall picture in which you can place confidence.
- I believe I can contribute materially on all of the above by going in with the assault companies. Furthermore I personally know both officers and men of these advance units and believe that it will steady them to know that I am with them.
Barton approved this letter with much misgiving, stating that he did not expect Roosevelt to return alive.
Roosevelt was soon informed that the landing craft had drifted more than a mile south of their objective, and the first wave was a mile off course. Walking with the aid of a cane and carrying a pistol, he personally made a reconnaissance of the area immediately to the rear of the beach to locate the causeways that were to be used for the advance inland.
He then returned to the point of landing and contacted the commanders of the two battalions, Lt. Cols. Conrad C. Simmons and Carlton O. MacNeely, and coordinated the attack on the enemy positions confronting them. Roosevelt's famous words in these circumstances were, "We’ll start the war from right here!" These impromptu plans worked with complete success and little confusion.
With [German] artillery landing close by, each follow-on regiment was personally welcomed on the beach by a cool, calm, and collected Roosevelt, who inspired all with humor and confidence, reciting poetry and telling anecdotes of his father to steady the nerves of his men. Ted pointed almost every regiment to its changed objective. Sometimes he worked under fire as a self-appointed traffic cop, untangling traffic jams of trucks and tanks all struggling to get inland and off the beach.
When General Barton, the CG of the 4th Division, came ashore, he met Roosevelt not far from the beach. He later wrote that
- 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.
Originally recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross by General Barton, the award was upgraded at higher headquarters to the Medal of Honor which Roosevelt was posthumously awarded on 28 September 1944.
His Medal of Honor citation reads:
- For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland.
- His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.