These D-Day quotes are from soldiers who were there, and even presidents who came long after honoring the anniversary of this infamous day.
Most people know that D-Day, June 6th, 1944, was the turning point in WWII and the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began with the liberation of France and later western Europe.
If you are wondering if the “D” in D-Day stands for something, like deliverance or doomsday, the answer is, no. The “D” according to a Time magazine report on June 12, 1944, stated that “as far as the U.S. Army can determine, the first use of D for Day, H for Hour was in Field Order No. 8, of the First Army, A.E.F., issued on Sept. 20, 1918, which read, ‘The First Army will attack at H-Hour on D-Day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel salient.’”
This means the “D” just stood for ‘day.’ And the famous D-Day was not the only D-Day of the war.
Planning for the operation began a year earlier, in 1943. The Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, a few months before the invasion. They were able to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the most influential Allied landings.
Keep reading these D-Day quotes from Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill to get a sense of what things were like back in June of 1944.
D-Day quotes from Eisenhower and Churchill
1. “If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.” — General Dwight Eisenhower, (in a draft of remarks)
2. “Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely… I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!” — General Dwight D. Eisenhower
3. “Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” — General Dwight D. Eisenhower
4. “When pressure mounts and strain increases, everyone begins to show the weaknesses in his makeup. It is up to the Commander to conceal his: above all to conceal doubt, fear, and distrust.” — General Dwight D Eisenhower
5. “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.” — General Dwight D Eisenhower
6. “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success.” — General Dwight D Eisenhower
7. “I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good luck!” — Winston Churchill
8. “And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever occurred.” — Winston Churchill
9. “This battle has been forced upon us by the Russians and the United States military authorities.” — Winston Churchill
D-Day quotes from Franklin D. Roosevelt and his son and King George VI
10. “We’ll start the war from right here.” — Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (son of the former president, who landed with his troops in the wrong place on Utah Beach)
11. “They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt
12. “At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young or too old to play a part in a nation-wide, perchance a worldwide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.” — King George VI, speaking during a radio address on June 6, 1944.
13. “Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
14. “O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
15. “With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
16. “The road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
17. “They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
18. “They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
19. “Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time, the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. Once again, what is demanded from us all is something more than courage and endurance; we need a revival of spirit, a new unconquerable resolve.” — King George VI
20. “After nearly five years of toil and suffering, we must renew that crusading impulse on which we entered the war and met its darkest hour.” — King George VI
21. “We and our Allies are sure that our fight is against evil and for a world in which goodness and honor may be the foundation of the life of men in every land.” — King George VI
D-Day quotes from other Presidents and the Queen
22. “So much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only six miles long and two miles wide.” — President Barack Obama, 65th anniversary of D-Day
23. “What more powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom than the sight of wave after wave after wave of young men boarding those boats to liberate people they had never met?” — President Barack Obama, 70th anniversary of D-Day
24. “We know that progress is not inevitable. But neither was victory upon these beaches. Now, as then, the inner voice tells us to stand up and move forward. Now, as then, free people must choose.” — President Bill Clinton
25. “These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.” — President Ronald Reagan
26. “That road to V-E Day was hard and long, and traveled by weary and valiant men. And history will always record where that road began. It began here, with the first footprints on the beaches of Normandy.” — President George W. Bush
27. “One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” — President Ronald Reagan
28. “When I attended the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, some thought it might be the last such event. But the wartime generation—my generation—is resilient.” — Queen Elizabeth II, 75th anniversary of D-Day
D-Day quotes from soldiers and military personnel
29. “Hitler made only one big mistake when he built his Atlantic Wall. He forgot to put a roof on it.” — World War II U.S. paratrooper aphorism
30. “The waiting for history to be made was the most difficult. I spent much time in prayer. Being cooped up made it worse. Like everyone else, I was seasick and the stench of vomit permeated our craft.” — Private Clair Galdonik
31. “I don’t feel that I’m any kind of hero. To me, the work had to be done. I was asked to do it. So I did. When I lecture kids, I tell them the same thing.” — Private First Class Joe Lesniewski
32. “All I could see was water, miles and miles of water. But this was D-Day and nobody went back to England and a lot of infantry riding in open barges seasick to the low-tide beaches were depending on us to draw the Germans off the causeways and gun batteries, and so, as Porter hurled himself against me, I grabbed both sides of the door and threw myself at the water.” — Private David Kenyon Webster, who became a writer after the war
33. “It was a different world then. It was a world that required young men like myself to be prepared to die for a civilization that was worth living in.” — Harry Read, British D-Day veteran who jumped again this week with the British Parachute Regiment’s freefall display team
34. “I’m very disappointed, and I hate leaving the world feeling this way.” — Private Jack Port, now 97, on the state of the world currently
“I took chances on D-Day that I never would have taken later in the war.” — First Sgt. C Carwood Lipton, 506th Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
35. “The first time I saw a poster wanting men to sign up to be paratroopers and heard how hard it would be to make it in, I knew that was for me. I wanted an elite group of soldiers around me.” — Staff Sergeant Frank Soboleski
D-Day quotes from Commissioned Officers and Generals
36. “They’re murdering us here. Let’s move inland and get murdered.” — Colonel Charles D. Canham, 116th Infantry Regiment commander, on Omaha Beach
37. “You get your ass on the beach. I’ll be there waiting for you and I’ll tell you what to do. There ain’t anything in this plan that is going to go right.” — Colonel Paul R. Goode, in a pre-attack briefing to the 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division
38. “Today, when people thank me for my service, I figure three years of my time is a cheap price to pay for this country. Nobody owes me a thing.” — Lieutenant Buck Compton
39. “There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. … When you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II … you can look him straight in the eye and say, Son, your granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a son-of-a-goddamned-bitch named Georgie Patton!” — General George S. Patton, Jr.
40. “We want to get the hell over there. The quicker we clean up this goddamned mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too. Before the goddamned Marines get all of the credit.” — General George S. Patton, Jr.
41. “I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said, ‘No, but I served in a company of heroes.'” — Major Richard Winters
42. “God almighty, in a few short hours, we will be in battle with the enemy. We do not join battle afraid. We do not ask favors or indulgence but ask that, if you will, use us as your instrument for the right and an aid in returning peace to the world.” — Lt. Col Robert L Wolverton, commanding officer of 3rd battalion, 506th PIR
More D-Day quotes to inspire you
43. “Thank you to those men and women who put self aside because they held the thought of us on the inside. So, whether that be the bloodied beaches on D-Day or any number of other battles remembered or forgotten, we now hold you on the inside and we say “thank you.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
44. “It was unknowable then, but so much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.” — Barack Obama
45. “Lieutenant Welsh remembered walking around among the sleeping men, and thinking to himself that ‘they had looked at and smelled death all around them all day but never even dreamed of applying the term to themselves. They hadn’t come here to fear. They hadn’t come to die. They had come to win.” ― Stephen E. Ambrose
46. “Men, I am not a religious man and I don’t know your feelings in this matter, but I am going to ask you to pray with me for the success of the mission before us. And while we pray, let us get on our knees and not look down but up with faces raised to the sky so that we can see God and ask his blessing in what we are about to do.” ― Lt Col Robert L Wolverton
47. “After enduring all the ordeals and training in England, we felt like we were completely ready for anything, and we were very ready to fight the Germans, and we looked forward to the day that we could actually get into the real fight.” ― Sgt Bob Slaughter, 116th Infantry Regiment, US 29th Division
48. “Rangers, Lead The Way!” ― Colonel Francis W Dawson
49. “No thoughts had I of anything, or at least that’s what I thought; I even thought I couldn’t think, but now I think I never thought.” ― Christopher Miller
50. “There’s a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other. I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves. But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn’t a forest but an orchard of graves. Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature.” ― Barbara Kingsolver
51. “We’ll start the war from right here.” ― Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
52. “The day before the anniversary of D-Day, we lost a man who was equaled by few and surpassed by none as a leader in the cause of freedom: Ronald Reagan.” ― Mac Thornberry
What did you learn from these D-Day quotes?
The invasion did not go off exactly as planned and actually had to be delayed for 24 hours, because of inclement weather.
Had they postponed it any further would have meant a delay of several weeks because requirements for the invasion included phases of the moon, the tides, and the time of day. This left planners with a very narrow window of opportunity, just a few days in each month.
24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops landed on the shores shortly after midnight. More Allied infantry and armored divisions landed on the French coast at 06:30.
Planners divided the Normandy coast was into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach. The target landing area was about 50 miles long.
However, the wind was so strong it blew the landing craft east of their intended positions. The landing itself was harrowing, but even more so because of enemy fire, mines, wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire.
Casualties were high, and the Allied forces failed to complete any of their missions successfully on the first day. As more Allies showed up, though, the tides turned. Both sides lost a lot of lives on this day, and the ones that followed, and hopefully it serves as a reminder to all about the cost of war and freedom.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these D-Day quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.
April 6, 2022 5:00 AM EST