Today is the anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 1944. In the largest invasion in history, known as Operation Overlord, the allied armies assaulted the beaches of Normandy, France with 133,000 soldiers from England, Canada, and the United States. The war in Europe would not end until nearly one year after the Normandy assault, but without a successful invasion on June 6th, the progress of the war and the final outcome certainly would have been different. As a result, if you were to talk about the single most influential day or moment in the 20th century, you would be hard pressed to find any more faithful day than June 6, 1944.
On the morning of June 6, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces General Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered the following "Order of the Day" to the Allied forces as they awaited their appointment with history:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark upon the 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 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 blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
As well as planning for victory on D-Day, Eisenhower also had the unpleasant task of preparing for defeat. One day before the D-Day, Eisenhower wrote out the following brief message on a piece of paper:
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 (1).
In his instructions to the sailor, soldiers, and airmen of the Allied forces, Eisenhower employed a specific rhetorical device to give his message punch, and to make it memorable. This rhetorical strategy is called parallelism. Parallelism is a big word for a simple concept. Our brains work naturally to recognize patterns, and our ears appreciate rhythm. Parallelism is not just the repetition of words, it is the repetition of grammatical patterns.
For example when Eisenhower wrote: "Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened" he was using parallelism by repeating the adverb-adjective pattern in: "well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened."
Another example of parallelism in Eisenhower’s message comes in the last sentence of his first paragraph: "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 oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world." Here Eisenhower uses the parallel nouns, destruction, elimination, and security, and he follows each noun with a prepositional phrase to elaborate on his ideas.
Good writers and good speakers know the power of parallelism to expand their ideas, to add rhythm to their writing, and to make their writing more coherent and memorable.
Today’s Challenge: I Came, I Saw, I Conquered Parallelism
Combine each of the following groups of sentences into a single sentence that features parallelism.
1. Last summer I built a log home. I ran a marathon. I organized my stamp collection.
2. I am the kind of person who likes listening to music. I am the kind of person who enjoys watching TV. I am the kind of person who loves eating out.
3. A good English teacher needs three things. He needs a dependable stapler. He needs an up-to-date dictionary. He needs an iron will.
4. Every child should have a pet. Pets provide companionship. Pets teach compassion. Pets encourage responsibility.
Quote of the Day: In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. --Dwight D. Eisenhower
1. Last summer I built a log home, ran a marathon, and organized my stamp collection.
2. I am the kind of person who likes listening to music, enjoys watching TV, and loves eating out.
3. A good English teacher needs three things: a dependable stapler, an up-to-date dictionary, and an iron will.
4. Every child should have a pet, because pets provide companionship, teach compassion, and teach responsibility.
1 - http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/dl/dday/ddaypage.html