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tv   Military Career of Dwight D. Eisenhower  CSPAN  October 14, 2015 9:35pm-10:06pm EDT

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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] the civil war every saturday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern. we've covered the war extensively these past five years as many state and national historic sites and local civil war groups hosted events to mark the war's 150th anniversary. to watch any of these past programs or to find upcoming schedule information visit our website c-span.org/history. this is american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3 and in prime time on week nights when congress is in recess. former naacp chairman julian bond died in august. on sunday, october 25, american
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history tv features an oral history with mr. bond where he remembers growing up in the segregated south. his involvement with the student nonviolent coordinating committee and his later political career. this is one of several oral histories with african-american leaders. they were conducted by the university of virginia's explorations in black leadership proje project. that's sunday october 25 at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span 3. each week american history tv's reel america brings you archival films that help provide context to today's public affairs issues. ♪ >> the united states army presents the big picture.
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an official report produced for the armed forces and the american people. now to show you part of the big picture, here is sar jent stuart queen. >> buy og rafies of our leaders whose lives have played a part in the fabric of our history. today the big picture brings you another story in which the army and the nation take particular pride. the story of eisenhower, the soldier. as narrated by raymond massey. >> the time is june, 1945. >> the turn to his homeland. the european phase of the greatest war america ever fought is over. and part of the warmth with which the people of abilene,
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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 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 6, 1944. the invasion of for ttress euro. the bold adventure hung the fate of war and freedom.
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it was because so much of man's hope had been wrapped up in the success of the adventure, 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 -- wheatland 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 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 history of the
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eisenhower family of abilene. it is visited daily by citizens from all parts of the country ranging from dignitary to school boy. 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 texas, of parents whose families migrated to pennsylvania from europe and to the american midwest. young eisenhower's parents lived in abilene before his birth and it was abilene now a peaceful village of the plains that they returned when he was an infant. and it was here that he grou to
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maturity through a childhood that was active, eager and happy. an experience shared with devoted parents and spirited brothers, a childhood as rich in the important things of life as ever graced the development of any 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.
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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 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
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for the military academy at west point. many a great american has begun his march in history as a cadet at west point. ice ep hour 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 1916 as a newly promoted first through tent stationed at ft. sam houston of texas he married mamie dowd of denver. events in europe were forging a new phase of life for the entire world.
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world war i gave many a general his first experience with combat. young eisenhower was not among them. it brought him command of a tank in pennsylvania where he prepared troops of a new tank corps for overseas duty. his performance won the distinguished service medal. before he was able to get to europe the war ended. in the late 1920s after general staff school. major dwight d. eisenhower was assigned to france to prepare a guide book on battlefields in europe 679 it was his first direct experience with that continent. with the '30s came other assignments. for four years he worked with mcarthur who was commander in
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chief of the philippine army to help work out a plan for its military of defense. ordered back to the states in december, 1939 lieutenant colonel eisenhower went to ft. louis as the 15th infantry regiment. in the dark spring of 1940 german armored divisions were crashing through holland and belgium. they were streaking destruction through europe's skies. beleaguered britain was standing alone. the united states had passed the selective service act for what inevitably laid ahead.
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and the biggest challenge was to aid in that preparation. 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 walter krueger whose newly organized third army was preparing to participate in the most realistic war maneuvers by troops. eisenhower's task was to work out a plan of defense.
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soon after the maneuvers was over came the bombing of pearl harbor. from almost this moment on the fate of the nation and the fate of general d. eisenhower would be inextricably 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, the allied effort. covering the west wall of the eisenhower museum dramatizes the high spots of the next great sequence in the adventure involving the nation and the man whose ability to rise to grave
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responsibilities brought him rapid promotions. because an all-out channel invasion would be impossible before 1944 and because the 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 lake november encountering resistance to surprise iingly sf at casablanca. the commanders' hope was to push quickly east along the mediterranean and take the important posts.
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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 the second corps were able and tunis fell to the british first army. and with these victories came the end of the empire in after ry ka. the allied leaders and the men who had fought under them proudly commemorated their victory.
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one of the greatest products of this victory in the words of the commander himself was the progress achieved in the welding of allied unity and a combat team showing the effects of growing ♪ ♪ 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 his basic truth. allied troops took this vital rock in the summer of 1943.
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the effect of sicily's fall was electric. italy surrendered. the first of the axis partners to capitulate. and now the allies prepared for what was to be the most fiercely 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
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sallerno and the vital port of naples. 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 with the cairo conferences where the agreement was 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 who people throughout the free world were
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now calling "the man of the hour." on the opposite wall of the museum, another mural depicts 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 they could push the invading armies back in 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.
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the challenges of morale, the myriad details of coordination on every level, all of 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 at hand. the commander visited the airborne troops who would lead the invasion. i found the man in fine fettle, 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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♪ ♪ half a million 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
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vast armies under him your accomplishments in the last seven days of this campaign have exceeded my highest hopes. less than two months after they -- after the invasion, the allied force broke out in the beachhead perimeter in the hedge row country. the breakout was the next step. now there began the dramatic pursuit spearhead ed by general george s. patton'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.
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beyond paris lay the liberation of belgium and the yard-by-yard struggle across the german border. blocking the steady pursuit of victory laid a nazi counteroffensive in the arden 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 forces held and steadily began
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pressing the enemy back. from that moment onward the supreme commander counted on weakened nazi resistance. the bridge across the rhine, one of the sturdiest symbols of the war, with its crossing in march, 1945, the heart of the enemy's defenses was cracked. there remained a substantial task of mopping up what was left of the enemy west of rhine. and accepting his surrender in the droves that began to appear. the great cities of the enemy's father land were rubble as allied troops moved through them in the last stages of the enemy's defeat. both commander and g.i. were able to find the exaltation that comes when victory is close.
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♪ ♪ victory came finally with a german surrender in a school house on may 7th, 1945. the return to peace was signaled by the supreme commander. >> i have the proud privilege of speaking for a victorious army of almost 5 million fighting men. they and the women who have so ably assisted them constitute the allied expeditionary forces that have liberated western europe. they have captured or destroyed enemy armies totaling more than their own strength. merely to name my principal subordinates in the canadian, french, american, and british forces, is to present a picture of the utmost in efficiency, skill, loyalty, and devotion to duty. the united nations will gratefully remember montgomery, spots, tedder, bradley, delock,
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career, and many others. but all these agree with me in the selection of truly heroic figure of this war. he is g.i. joe and his counterpart in the air, the navy, and the merchant marine of every one of the united nations. he has braved the dangers of u-boat infested seas. he has surmounted charges in the desperately defended beaches. he has fought his patient way through the ultimate in fortified zones. he has endured cold, hunger, fatigue. his companion has been danger, and death has dogged his foot steps. he and his platoon commanders have given us an example of loyalty, devotion to duty, and indomitable courage that will live in our hearts as long as we admire those qualities in men. >> and now the long and happy road home.
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for dwight eisenhower that road was paved with the cheers of the people of the allied countries. in his own homeland the hero's welcome awaited him. america's greeting for a favorite son. here the story of dwight d. eisenhower might well have ended on this note of triumphant acclaim for a job so splendidly done. but america had other tasks waiting for its favorite soldier. eisenhower succeeded general marshall as the army's first post war chief of staff. he expressed the belief that one of greatest pillars of world peace is a strong, united states. he visited troops stationed in various parts of the world to show america's growing sense of
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global responsibility. we must remain, he said, the first champions of those who seek to lead their own lives in peace with their neighbors. finally, on february 7th, 1948, the general from abilene after 36 years of service to his country left active military assignment. but not active participation in the life of his nation. he accepted an invitation from columbia university to serve as president of that great institution, enabling him so he thought at the time to devote the remainder of his useful life to the challenges of education. but events of the post war world dictated otherwise.
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the urgent necessity for unity in the free world brought into being the north atlantic treaty organization and it was evident that only one man could make that vital and complicated organization work from the outset. dwight d. eisenhower. 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 alliance. against the new threat rising from the soviets who had once been his nation's ally he had to create in the war-weary european soul, the will to defend itself so that freedom so dearly bought would not be lost. for more than a year he labored diligently at his task of coalition. when he turned over the reins of command to general matthew ridgeway the structure of
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military unity among free nations on which rested the hope for continued peace, was established. once again with the accomplishment of substantial victory behind him, this might well have been the end of his public career and 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. the stories may be separate but soldier and statesman they are the same man, dwight d. eisenhower, citizen of the united states, spokesman for and symbol of the free world. and son of abilene. as rich a study as this nation has produced of the capacity for greatness, which lies at its grass roots.
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the big picture is an official report for the armed forces and the american people. produced by the army pictorial center. presented by the department of the army in cooperation with this station. >> join american history tv on saturday, november 7th, for tours and live interviews from the national world war ii museum in new orleans. we'll explore the road to berlin and the african american story, and we'll take your questions for historians joining us throughout the day. world war ii, 70 years later live from the national

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