Friday, June 5, 2009

D-Day front page: Hot type, hot history

If newspapers are the "first rough draft of history," as publisher Philip Graham once famously said, The Charlotte Observer performed admirably on June 7, 1944.

With its screaming headline "Allies Widen Foothold And Battle Way Inland," the front page announced the prior day's invasion of Allied troops along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany, as described at this comprehensive government web site.

But the newspaper did more than that.

Sixty-five years later, we recognize what what those Charlotte journalists were thinking: context and meaning.

Click on the image to the right to see how readers learned of the historic battle - the Allies' widening foothold, their powerful air fleet, Churchill's light losses.

Think about what those developments, written on the day of the invasion, would portend for the American Century.

Click on the second image for a larger image of the next day's paper - the June 8 front page.

Today, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's message prior to
the invasion is a click away - a concept surely few could
fathom at the time.

His words: "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.

In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground.

Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

- Doug Miller


spinelabel said...

Thanks for the look back!

These and other back issues of the Observer (and other papers) are available on microfilm at the Main Library

WMUD962P said...

This Blog is going places, the people, the layout, amazing to see such dedication and focus.