On June 5, 1944, more than 5,000 ships waited to transport more than 150,000 soldiers to France before daybreak the following morning. General Dwight D. Eisenhower hoped these troops would push the German troops back across Europe.

Eisenhower knew the fight to take Normandy would be brutal. The beaches these troops would assault were tangled in barbed wire, booby trapped, and defended by German soldiers in concrete bunkers. As he read from his letter announcing Operation Overlord, he knew these men were almost certainly being sent to their deaths.

“The tide has turned!”“The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!”

With that, the final assault to defend western democracy and destroy European fascism began. Unsure whether the future would find him right or wrong, Eisenhower went back to his headquarters alone and in secret, to write a second letter designed to take full ownership in the event Operation Overlord failed. It read:

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.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

General Eisenhower never delivered the second letter displaying his combination of Confidence to Risk And his Humility to take Ownership.

A year later, he was welcomed home as a hero who helped preserve democracy and achieve victory in WWII.

(Story source — Heather Cox Richardson’s June 6th, “Letters from an American”)