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Is Being the Commander Ever Too Heavy a Burden?

The Allies selected American General Dwight D. Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, so it was Ike who decided when the Normandy Invasion would begin.

Before his elevation to the top position, Eisenhower was commander of Allied Forces in North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.

On the day when Ike ordered the Allied forces to begin their cross-channel mission, he wrote a message accepting personal responsibility if the Normandy Invasion failed. Intending the note as a press release, the General tucked it away in his wallet, then forgot about it.

On the 11th of July, Eisenhower found the note. He would write other notes, like this one, in the event things went bad, but he always tore them up.

His naval aide, Capt. Harry C. Butcher, convinced the General not to destroy this note so that future generations would understand how the Supreme Commander viewed his responsibilities the night before thousands of men would die on Normandy's beaches and in the skies above France.

Here are the words of the note which Ike misdated, writing down “July 5" instead of June 5:

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.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.

What does this note tell us about General Eisenhower?

How did he view his responsibilities as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe?

What does the misdating tell us about the General’s emotions the night before the attack began?

Do you think it is ever possible that being a commander is too-heavy a burden? Explain your answer.


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