He was the right man for the job at the right time. Eisenhower wasn’t the senior general in Washington, nor did he have many years of experience commanding large armies. He was however an effective leader, administrator and as Commanding General of the European Theater of Operations his political skills were his best asset in managing all the varied allied armies in the war against Hitlers Germany. He would later (1953) be called upon to used those same political skills as President Of The United States.
Seventy nine years ago in the last week of June in 1942 an American from Midwestern farm country arrived in besieged London.
It was a business trip, of sorts. The man’s bosses had assigned him a daunting task. Summed up in a few words, that task was:
As President President Roosevelt put it “Save the world.”
England, and free Europe, were under terrible peril at the hands of Germany’s Third Reich. The British people and the British military had shown extraordinary valor, but it was not going to be enough.
Adolf Hitler didn’t realize it at the time, but the appointment and arrival of Dwight D. Eisenhowers in London meant that he (Hitler) was through.
But by June, he did go on, with the assignment of commanding all the Yanks in Europe. The invasion of North Africa would soon follow. Then, having been promoted to supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, Eisenhower would direct the largest combined sea, air and land military undertaking in the history of the world: Operation Overlord, the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. England, and Europe, and the free world would survive and prevail.
All was not easy every decision was not without its critics, both at the time and in the ensuing years. Some strategies did not work out the way he had hoped and planned for. Eisenhower himself realized this, and was at peace with it.
After the war, remembering his arrival in London, he would write: “War, as so many men have said, is the most stupid and tragic of human ventures.
It is stupid because so few problems are enduringly solved; tragic because its cost in lives and spirit and treasure is seldom matched in the fruits of victory. Still, I never intend to join myself with those who damn all wars as vile crimes against humanity.
World War II, not sought by the people of the United States or its allies, was certainly not, on their part, either stupid or in vain.
Satisfaction, and memories precious beyond price, rewarded those who survived and who, in loyalty to country and to ideals, answered the attack.”