From THE WAR Episode 4:
RADIO: This is Robert St. John in the NBC newsroom in New York. Ladies and gentlemen, all night long bulletins have been pouring in from Berlin claiming that D-Day is here, claiming that the invasion of Western Europe has begun….
VOICE: When we stumbled sleepily down the hall to answer the… ringing telephone we made a mental note that it was shortly before 3 A.M. We picked up the receiver, thinking it was Sheriff Roberts calling to say that there had been an accident. Instead, it was Mrs. Lloyd Long, playing the feminine counterpart of Paul Revere, saying, “Get up, Al, and listen to the radio, the invasion has started…”
We sat by the radio for over an hour listening to the breath-taking announcements… And then we went to bed – to lie there for a long time, wide-eyed in the darkness – thinking “what Rock County boys are landing on French soil tonight?”
Rock County Star Herald
NARRATOR: Americans woke up on June 6, 1944 to newspaper headlines and radio bulletins. It was the news they’d been waiting for. But there were no further details, no live radio reports from the beaches. No one knew where their sons and brothers and fathers had landed. Or how those landings were going.
In Philadelphia, the mayor gently tapped the Liberty Bell for the first time in more than a century. In New York, traders on the Stock Exchange observed two minutes of silence– and then went back to work – sending the Dow Jones average soaring 142 points to a new high for the year. Major League baseball canceled all games. Everywhere, church bells rang, calling people to prayer. They knelt or bowed their heads in factories and schoolrooms and public parks.
In Waterbury, special masses were said at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. There were prayer services at Temple Israel & Beth El Synagogue, and on the town green, as well. In Sacramento, workers at the Pacific Fruit Express Cannery prayed for the safety of one hundred former employees now in the service. In Mobile that day, no liquor was sold, and at the railroad station girls walked up and down the platforms holding up the morning newspapers so that traveling soldiers could read the headlines.
RADIO: First of all here’s another quick news summary in the eighth hour of invasion news coverage…
VOICE: And so the invasion news came to Luverne, quietly. There were no whistles, no sirens … no demonstrations. Not much was said. The coffee shops were filled almost to standing room as the 10 o’clock [morning] news approached…There were sober faces on the men as they listened to the news but there was a smile of exultation when they heard that the Allied forces had penetrated ten miles inland.
One mother dropped in the coffee shop. She shook her head and pushed the cup of coffee placed in front of her aside. “I just want to listen to the radio,” she said. Her boy, by all the odds, was “there.” One didn’t have to be psychic to know what was in her mind – or her heart. The prayer that she was uttering right then as she listened to the announcer was multiplied a thousand times and more in Rock County countless times during the day.
Rock County Star Herald
NARRATOR: That evening, President Roosevelt spoke to the country.
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT: Almighty God: 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. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their 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.”