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WWII France D-Day

An Army chaplain conducts a Catholic service aboard a landing craft in an English port in June 1944 before the Americans set off for the invasion of Northern France.

A quiet solemnity mingled with feelings of relief, hope, sadness, and anxiety for the participants in the invasion of Europe was the general attitude of Winonans upon learning of the event today.

Public and private prayers took the place of a festive, holiday spirit. Most Winonans went about their daily routines thinking of those who had begun to land in the pre-dawn to start the greatest move toward victory.

Gov. Edward J. Thye expressed the thought uppermost in the minds of everyone, according to a dispatch from The Associated Press.

“All we can do now is hope and pray for a very successful beachhead operation and that our losses of men will be kept to a minimum,” he said. “It is a solemn day in our history, and should be a prayerful one — prayers for the safety of each and every one of our young men called upon to participate in the operation. Let us also pray for the comfort of the wounded.”

Much the same thought was expressed by Winonans, as shown in the following statements:

  • “Don’t become too enthusiastic and as a result, let up in the war effort. This is not a time for celebrating, but for devoting all time and abilities so that victory will come as quickly as possible. The longer the war, the more casualties. A slowing down on the home front now will delay victory.” — Mayor William A. Galewski
  • “Now the long-awaited day has come. We have told our students to go about their duty and prepare themselves for work in war and peace. We have asked them to pray privately and publicly in chapel for victory, and so that the loss of lives may be few.” — Brother Joel, president of St. Mary’s College
  • Thank God it has started. Now we must pray God that it will be successful.” — Arthur T. French, Winona Teachers college president
  • Legionnaires, in particular, are feeling very serious about the invasion, because of their experiences in World War I. We know what the invasion will mean — that it will be a hard-fought battle, and will cost many lives. It will be a costly struggle and everyone should try to help here at home in every way possible.” — Leo C. La France, commander of local American Legion post
  • “Winonans should attend the church devotions, and spend some time in private devotion to God. I know of no better way to back up our boys than by prayer.” — The Rev. Robert N. Benedict of First Baptist Church and president of Winona County Ministerial Association.
  • “The invasion is good news to all of us. We know what sorrow it will hold for many people, because of the resultant casualties of loved ones, but it is the road to victory.” — G.E. Raymond, president of the Winona Association of Commerce
  • “We hope and pray that the invasion will be successful. This is a period of anxiety for all. We feel so helpless — yet, we must continue to do our best, whatever our jobs may be.” — Senator M.J. Garvin

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