Singer Kate Smith expressed the feeling of people across America when her noontime talk radio show came on the air from New York 76 years ago on June 6, 1944,
The United States and its allies had invaded Nazi-occupied France less than six hours before in the largest seaborne invasion in history. Outside the military, the day was not yet known as D-Day.
“Hello, everybody,” said Smith, a popular entertainer in the 30s, 40s and 50s. “Today is the day that no living American can ever forget—invasion day."
“Forged into our consciousness in letters of fire, it marks the pinnacle of weeks and months and years of anguished preparation. Consolidating of our mighty forces, this is the hour of the deathblow to those who are our enemies who have spread evil, sorrow and suffering like a black shadow across the face of this earth."
“This is the day of reckoning when America and her allies go forward to the terrible task of crushing completely and forever the enemies who for four and a half years have ravaged one hapless nation after another."
“This is the day that must mark the beginning of the downfall of Nazi Germany and the downfall of all those who have sanctioned and aided the brief reign of terror, the cruelty, the insanity and arrogance of Hitlerism."
“Let the blow be swift and sure. Let us be strong and unswerving in purpose, strong in the assurance that we go forward in a cause which is right in the liberation of the oppressed and the restoration of human decency and dignity from the forces of evil."
“This is invasion day, liberation day. Here at home we sit beside our radios eagerly hanging on each word of news that flashes across the ocean, around the world.”
Smith, who died in 1986, was known for singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”
Recordings of news reports broadcast during D-Day can be found on old-time radio and other Internet sites.
Less than a year after D-Day, the war in Europe ended with the defeat of the Nazis and Hitler’s suicide. The Allies declared May 8, 1945, as Victory in Europe (VE) Day.
The Allies landed about 156,000 troops on D-Day, including about 73,000 Americans. About 10,000 were killed or wounded.
The U.S. National D-Day Foundation has so far verified 2,499 American fatalities and 1,914 killed from other Allied countries. Only a few hundred of the American D-Day veterans remain alive today. A year ago, it was reported that fewer than 1,000 were still living.