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tv   Reel America Famous Generals - Eisenhower - 1963  CSPAN  December 30, 2020 10:28am-11:01am EST

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american revolution and the 1783 treaty of paris. and sunday, at 8:00 p.m. eastern on "the presidency," national portrait gallery senior historian gwendolyn dubois-shaw on the gallery's exhibit "every eye is upon me: first ladies of the united states." exploring the american story. ãg5,epñ american history tv, th weekend on c-span3. ladies and gentlemen, mr. walter matthau. >> you will enter the continent of europe, and in conjunction with the other united nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of germany and the destruction of her armed forces. this was, without a doubt, the most difficult assignment ever given to one man. the brilliance with which he answered this awesome challenge marks him as one of our greatest soldiers. mr. raymond massey, the distinguished actor, now brings you some of the finest moments in our history, the story of general of the army, dwight d.
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eisenhower. ♪ ♪ the time is june 1945. the occasion, the return to his homeland of a war hero whose stature has seldom been matched in the esteem of his countriment. the european phase of the greatest war america ever fought is over, and part of the warmth with which the people of abilene, kansas, greet general dwight d. eisenhower reflects the deep joy of a nation approaching peace again. some of it is the kind of welcome any hometown might give
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a favorite son who has done a good job. but more than anything else, it is a tribute, a gratitude felt in every corner of the allied world, no less than in abilene, towards a man who stewarded the crusade to its victory. it was a crusade with many battles and many triumphs, but it found its symbol in one day above all others. d-day, june 6th, 1944. the invasion of europe was one of the greatest military adventures of all time. upon the outcome of this bold adventure hung the fate of war and freedom. [ explosions ] ♪ it was because so much of man's
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hope had been bound up in the success of this adventure that the architect of that success found the hearts of the people open to him from europe to the town of his boyhood, where the adventure of dwight d. eisenhower, the man, began. abilene, kansas, today, a busy and proud town of almost -- is typical of the kind of town that comes to mind with the phrase grassroots america. the mark of the past is on it, but it does not live in the past. its streets and its buildings bear testimony to a living and growing america. one of its newest and proudest buildings is the eisenhower museum, which carries forth the spirit and the history of the eisenhower family of abilene. it is visited daily by citizens from all parts of the country, ranging from dignitaries to
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schoolboy. inside the museum, the life of dwight eisenhower, boy and man, is depicted in a series of murals. from infancy, that life had the flavor of grassroots america about it. eisenhower was born in 1890 in denison, texas, of parents whose families had migrated to pennsylvania from europe, advanced to the american midwest. young eisenhower's parents lived in abilene before his birth, and it was to abilene, once the wild town at the end of a chisolm trail, now a peaceful village of the plains, that they returned when he was an infant. and it was here that he grew to maturity through a childhood that was active, eager, and happy. an experience shared with devoted parents and spirited
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brothers, a childhood as rich in the important of things has ever graced the development of a man. it was an active boyhood in which sports played an important part. he excelled at baseball, both in school and on a vacant lot next to his home. but football was his first love. and his high school coach called him the most outstanding tackle in the valley. the active life was important, but the greatest single staple of the eisenhower family life was religious observance. the family home in abilene shows the influence of that serious religious conviction. the bible was the guide of family life. and its chronicler as well. on the wall of the bedroom shared by dwight and his brother, edgar, still hangs the
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simple testament of faith -- thy will be done. it was a home of patriotism as well as faith, and of respect for things of the mind. work, constant and hard work, was also a staple of the family routine. the creamery where young eisenhower worked during his spare time while he was in school is still one of abilene's light industries. in this way, and by these standards, young dwight eisenhower grew to a manhood the world would one day know well. he was 20 when he left abilene. for the military academy at west point. ♪ many a great american has begun his march into history as a
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cadet on the plain at west point. eisenhower was graduated from the military academy in 1915 and commissioned to second lieutenant of infantry. a new phase of life was beginning. in the summer of 116, as a newly promoted first lieutenant stationed at ft. sam houston of texas, he married geneva dowd of denver. events in europe were forging a new phase of life for the entire world. world war i gave many a future general his first experience with combat. when young eisenhower was not among them. world war i brought him,
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instead, command of a tank training center at gettysburg, pennsylvania, where he prepared troops of the new tank corps for overseas duty. his performance won for him distinguished service medal, but before he was able to get to europe, the war ended. in the late 1920s, after graduation from the command and general staff school, major dwight d. eisenhower was assigned to france to prepare a guide book on american battlefields in europe. it was his first direct experience with that continent. with the '30s came other assignments, climaxed by service under general douglas macarthur in the philippines. for four years, he worked with macarthur, who was commander in chief of the philippine army, to help the commonwealth government work out a plan for its military defense.
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ordered back to the states in december 1939, lieutenant colonel eisenhower went to ft. lewis, washington, as executive officer of the 15th infantry regiment. in the dark spring of 1940, german armored divisions were crashing through holland and belgium. the lufthansa were streaking destruction through the european skies. beleaguered britain was standing alone. the united states had passed the selective service act to prepare for what inevitably lay ahead. and the biggest challenge in colonel eisenhower's life was to aid in that preparation.
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late in 1940, he was made chief of staff of the third division, where his staff work brought him assignment as chief of staff of the ninth corps. in the summer of 1941, colonel eisenhower became chief of staff to general walter krueger, whose newly organized third army was preparing to participate in the most realistic war maneuvers yet held by american troops. in these maneuvers over the louisiana countryside, as america fought for the tired train army of citizen soldiers, his plan was to work out a defense against an invading, mechanized force. soon after the maneuvers were over, eisenhower's promoted to brigadier general, and within a
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matter of days came the bombing of pearl harbor. from almost this moment on, the fate of the nation and the fate of general dwight d. eisenhower would be inextraably bound together. called to washington in the first weeks after the war began, eisenhower went to work in the war plans office of the war department. among the plans formulated during this time was the central strategic determination to make an eventual attack across the english channel, the principal ally defensive effort. a mural covering the west wall of the eisenhower museum dramatized the high spots of the next great sequence in the adventure involving the nation and the man whose ability to rise to grave responsibilities brought him rapid promotions. because an all-out channel invasion would be impossible before 1944, and because the
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need for offensive action was immediate in 1942, the allies undertook as a combined operation, under the command of general dwight d. eisenhower, the invasion of north africa. the minimum objective of this maneuver was to seize the main ports between casablanca and algiers. along the rim of the north african coast, troops were ashore in late november, encountering resistance ranging from milder algiers to surprisingly stiff at casablanca. the commander's hope is to push quickly east along the mediterranean and take the important posts of bbizet and catunis.
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but a number of unfavorable circumstances, including treacherous weather conditions, prompted the commander to hold off on this vital assault. in the spring, however, troops of omar bradley's second corps were able to take bizet, and at the same time, katunis fell to the british army. and with these victories came
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♪ the successful end of the campaign brought personal recognition of eisenhower throughout the world as a great leader. but the commander, himself, interpreted this recognition as proof that free men can find immunity the way to victory, even against seemingly invincible odds. the next big campaign, the invasion of sicily, brought further demonstration of this basic truth. allied troops took this vital rock in the summer of 1943. the effect of sicily's fall was electric. italy surrendered, the first of the axis partners to capitulate.
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and now the allies prepared for what was to be the most fiscally fought battle of the mediterranean war. the invasion of italy itself at salerno. >> through a miracle of courage and tenacity, troops of general mark clark's fifth army established a beachhead against overwhelming german odds and went on to take salerno in the vital port of naples.
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with these victories, although heavy fighting and important battles lay ahead, the first major objectives of the italian campaign were accomplished. allied forces were on european soil and would be able to pin down german troops far from the scene of the cross-channel invasion planned for the following year. president roosevelt visited the combat area with general eisenhower when he came over for the cairo and tear ram conferences, where agreement was once again established that the principal allied effort would be the invasion of europe. shortly afterward, the man who would command this awesome undertaking was named -- general dwight d. eisenhower, whom people throughout the free world were now calling the man of the hour. on the opposite wall of a museum, another mural depicts some of the major episodes in
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the great crusade which liberated europe. the supreme commander's orders from the combined chiefs of staff were quite simple -- to land on the coast of france, and thereafter, to destroy the german ground forces. between the order and its execution lay an agony of effort. across the channel, the heavy fortifications lining the coast of france bespoke the nazis' belief that they could push the invading armies back into the sea. in france alone, 58 german divisions were waiting, preparing for the invasion was a job without letup. incessant and realistic training was of paramount importance. the challenges of morale, the
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myriad details of coordination on every level -- all these were overwhelming. but through those tense months in the early part of 1944, the preparations continued. and finally, after being postponed one day because of weather conditions, the eve of the day of decision was in hand. the commander visited the airborne troops who would lead the invasion. i found the men in fine fetal, he wrote later, joshingly admonishing me that i had no cause for worry. d-day, with the fate of the war hanging in the balance. ♪
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500,000 troops backed by millions more faced outward across the stormy sea. ♪ on beaches that dotted the french coast of the channel, british, canadian, and american troops touched shore. the first fateful moment passed, and allied troops were holding on french soil. one week after the landings, the commander was able to say to the vast armies under him, your accomplishments in the last seven days of this campaign have exceeded my highest hopes.
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less than two months after the invasion, the allied force broke out of the beachhead perimeter in the hedgerow community around st. lo. the presentation of the breakout was the next step. and now they began the dramatic pursuit, spearheaded by general george s. patten's armored force across the heart of france. and then the grand triumphant march through paris, which was freed by french troops and soldiers of the u.s. fifth corps. beyond paris lay the liberation of belgium and the yard-by-yard struggle across the german
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border. blocking the steady pursuit of victory lay the nazi counteroffensive in the sector known as the battle of the bulge. through a grim and bleak period of several weeks, the enemy, supported by the most devastating of weather conditions, isolated and assaulted allied forces. general eisenhower called upon all troops to rise to new heights of courage and effort. the brave men of the beleaguered pressing the enemy back. and from that moment onward, the supreme commander counted on weakened nazi resistance. the bridge at romagan, across the rhine, one of the sturdiest
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symbols of the war. with this crossing in march 1945, the heart of the enemy's defenses was cracked. there there remained a substantial task of mopping up what was left of the enemy west of iran. and accepting his surrender in the droves. the great cities were rubble, his allied troops moved through them in the last statements of the defeat. both commander and ga was able to find the exultation.
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victory came finally with a sprender at a schoolous on may the 7th. the return to peace was signalled by the supreme commander. >> i have the power and the privilege of speaking for our victorious army of almost five million. they and the women who have assisted them constitute the expedition fair forces that have liberated western europe. they captured or destroyed enmy armies totaling more that their strength. i want to present a picture of the utmost in efficiency, skill, loyalty, and duty. the united nations will remember montgomery, spots, bradley, and many others. all of these agree with me in
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the selection of the truly e rowic figure of the war. these is gi joe and his counter part in the air, the navy, and the merchant marine and virtually every one of the united nations. he has surmounted charges into defended beaches. he is the ultimate in fortified zones. he encured cold, hunger, fatigue. his companion has been danger. he and his commanders have given us a example of loigs, duty, and they will live in our hearts as long as we admire those quantities in them. >> and now the long and happy road home. for divide sooizen hour, that was paved with the cheers of the
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people fromallied countries. a hero's welcome awaited him in his own home. america's greeting for a favorite son. here the story of dwight d. eisenhower might have ended. but america had other tasks waiting for his favorite soldier. he expressed belief that one of the greatest pillars is a strong united states. he visited troops in various parts of the world with a growing sense of responsibility. we must remain, he said, the
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first champions of those that seek to lead their own lives in peace with their neighbors finally on february the 7th, the general from abilene left active military assignment. but not active participation in the life of his nagts. he accepted an invitation from columbia university to serve as president of that great institution. enabling him to devote his life to the challenges of education. but events of the post war world dictated otherwise. the urgent necessity for unity in the free world brought into
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being the north atlantic treaty. at the end of 1950 he answered his country's call once more. and once more he was on european soil to assume supreme command of the land, the sea, and the air forces of a grand defensive allian alliance. against the new threat rising from the soviets, he had to create the will to defend itself so that freedom so dearly bought would not be lost. for more than a year he labored diligently when he turned over the reigns, the structure and unity of free nations was
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established. once again with the accomplishment of substantial victory behind him, this might well have been the end of his public career. in a sense, it was. the closing chapter in the story of eisenhower the soldier. history is recording today the story of eisenhower, the statesman. they may be separate, but they are the same man, a citizen of the united states. spokes man for and symbol of the free world. as rich as this study has produced at it's grass roots.
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