Bob Hope was not only an entertainer but a passionate supporter of the troops both during World War II and after. The night of D-Day, June 6, 1944, Americans were tuned to their radios, eager for any invasion news updates that they could get. Most shows were pre-empted for news broadcasts, but Bob Hope went on the air at 10:15pm on NBC. Instead of his normal antics, he began his show with this sober and reverent monologue that withstands 70 years of time.
“Folks, this is Bob Hope speaking from a P-38 airfield out here near Van Nuys, California. We look forward to being with these men and doing our regular show here but, of course, nobody feels like getting up and being funny on a night like this. But we did want to go through with our plans and visit with these fellas because these are the same kinds of boys that are flying those 11,000 planes in our big effort. What’s happened during these last few hours not one of us will ever forget. How could you forget? You sat up all night by the radio and heard the bulletins, the flashes, the voices coming across from England. The commentators, the pilots returning from their greatest of all missions. Newsboys yelling in the street and it seemed that one world was ending and a new world beginning; that history was closing one book and opening a new one. And, somehow, we knew it had to be a better one. You sat there and dawn began to sneak in and you thought of the hundreds of thousands of kids you’d seen in camps the past two or three years – the kids who scream and whistle when they hear a gag and a song. And now you could see all of them again in four thousand ships on the English Channel, tumbling out of thousands of planes over Normandy and the occupied coast, in countless landing barges crashing the Nazi gate and going on through to do the job of all of us. The sun came up and you sat there looking at that huge black headline, that one great black word with the exclamation point: Invasion! The one word that the whole world has waited for, that all of us have worked for. We knew we’d wake up one morning and have to meet it face to face, the word in which America’s invested everything these 30 long months. The efforts of millions of Americans building planes and weapons. The shipyards and the men who took the stuff across. Little kids buying war stamps and housewives straining bacon grease. Farmers working around the clock. Millions of young men sweating it out in camps and fighting the battles that paved the way for that headline this morning. Now the investment must pay for this generation and all generations to come. And, folks, what a wonderful thing it is that no matter the price, the reward will be greater than the sacrifice. We hope that thought can go along with a prayer tonight, the prayer of a whole nation. God bless those kids across the English Channel.”