Music & the Spoken Word: Courage and devotion to duty

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music & the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, May 30, 2021.

On June 6, 1944, this beach on the coast of Normandy, France, became the turning point of World War II. At the time, France was occupied by Nazi Germany, as was much of western Europe. But then Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces, ordered an invasion. Code-named Operation Overlord, it took place on this 50-mile stretch of sand, where some 160,000 American, British and Canadian troops, with an armada of nearly 5,000 vessels, launched the largest seaborne invasion in military history.   

Addressing the troops before launching the campaign, Gen. Eisenhower said: “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. … I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!” Against all odds, the hard-fought invasion of Normandy was a success, and the course of history was forever altered. 

Gen. Eisenhower never intended to be a military hero. As a youngster in Abilene, Kansas, what he really wanted to be was a major league baseball player. The world owes a debt of gratitude to the baseball coach at West Point Academy who cut young Dwight Eisenhower from the team, effectively ending his baseball career. Instead, Eisenhower became a five-star general and the 34th president of the United States.  

He brought to Washington a military charisma reminiscent of Presidents George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant, both charged with bringing the country together after deadly wars. In his final address as president in 1961, Eisenhower reflected on his “half a century in the service of our country.” His presidential counsel still holds true: “America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our … material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.”  

At this place made sacred by the sacrifices of those under Eisenhower’s command, we remember, and must never forget, that our nation’s best moments were born of courage and devotion to duty. We honor that history when we, as President Eisenhower urged, use what power we have to promote peace and make the world a better place. 

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages