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The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum or ‘Musee Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie’ in Bayeux tells of the story of the World War Two battle which loosened Germany’s grasp on Europe and paved the way for an Allied victory.
Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum history
The invasion of northern France in 1944 was the most significant victory of the Western Allies in the Second World War. American, British and Canadian forces established a foothold on the shores of Normandy, and, after a protracted and costly campaign to reinforce their gains, broke out into the French interior and began a headlong advance.
“Operation Overlord,” as it was codenamed, combined the forces of 156,115 Allied troops, 6,939 ships and landing vessels, 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders that delivered airborne soldiers.
The German Army suffered a catastrophe greater than that of Stalingrad, the defeat in North Africa or even the massive Soviet summer offensive of 1944.
Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum today
Taking a chronological approach, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum begins in the period prior to the initial assault, through to the infamous Normandy Landings on D-Day up to 29 August 1944.
Displaying military objects from the time, including weaponry and uniforms, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum offers an overview of the battle and an insight into the events, including a 25-minute film.
A visit to the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum usually lasts around one and a half hours.
Getting to the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum
The address for the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum is Boulevard Fabian Ware, 14400 Bayeux, France.
The Battle of Normandy museum is easily accessible from the SNCF train station or the major highways. Parking is in the immediate vicinity.
The Memorial museum is open 7 days a week and is accessible to people with reduced mobility (lift and wheelchair loan).
The Battle of Normandy
This exhibition space deals exclusively with the Invasion of Normandy, a key episode in the liberation of Europe.
For the first time ever, we cover every detail of the Invasion of Normandy. Indeed, few people really know how much Normandy suffered following 6 June 1944. 20,000 inhabitants of Normandy were killed, that is a third of all French civilians killed during the Second World War. Towns were razed to the ground in mass bomb attacks, battles as fierce as those on the Eastern front raged, civilians were subjected to terrible suffering and many were evacuated, the German army fled and was pursued.
The Battle of Normandy was not supposed to last more than a few weeks. It would only end on 12th September with the liberation of Le Havre, one hundred days after the Landings.
Mémorial de Caen – A Museum Dedicated to Peace
The town of Caen in Normandy saw a lot of action during World War II, a war which reduced Europe to a rubble. During the Normandy invasion and the one hundred days of fierce battle, Caen found itself at the centre stage of this battle.
As one of the largest cities in Normandy and with its position astride the Orne River and Caen Canal, Caen became a strategic target for the Allied Forces during the D-Day Landings.
A Museum Dedicated to Peace
Caen suffered heavy bombings during the summer of 1944 and much of the city was destroyed. To underline its commitment to peace, the town built the Mémorial de Caen (Caen Memorial) in June 1988, in which archive records and documentaries provide accounts of the war from all fronts. This peace project earned Caen the UNESCO “City of Peace” award in 1999.
In this museum dedicated to peace, visitors can learn about World War II history and the events of D-Day Landings are played out, using a host of inter-active and audio-visual techniques. You can also watch films on “D Day” and “Battle of Normandy”.
The Caen Memorial is an award-winning museum and a must visit for anyone interested in the World War II history and the Cold War. And, even if you’ve visited it before, new exhibits are being added all the time providing new insights into the many aspects of the Second World War and the Cold War. Some of the the 2009 and 2010 additions include:
Mémorial de Caen, Normandy
- A new permanent area devoted to the understanding of the use of press cartoons to drive the messages for world peace, the defence of human rights, ecological threats, different forms of censorship, etc.
- A new section showing objects and films from the Cold War period. It is the only museum in France to have on display comprehensive records of the period from 1945 to 1989. Visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like before and after the Berlin Wall and how Europe was divided into the Eastern and Western bloc.
The Mémorial de Caen offers various tours of the Museum, the D Day Landing beaches and of the medieval estate of Bayeux, which you can book online.
The Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy
- Museum of the Battle of Normandy, Boulevard Fabian Ware, Bayeux, France
- +33 (0)2 31 51 46 90.
The Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux relates how the Allies fought the Germans during the first ten weeks after D-Day. A wide range of vehicles, uniforms and military equipment gives visitors an impression of the everyday life of soldiers and civilians during that crucial period.
The Memorial Museum of the battle of Normandy is located next to the British military cemetery in Bayeux. The museum shows, step by step, how the Allies battled the German forces for ten weeks, from the Allied landings on D-Day until the withdrawal of the Wehrmacht beyond the River Seine. The museum provides a 2.000 square meters space where the military actions and the soldiers’ and civilians’ everyday life during the battle are illustrated by mannequins, pictures, weaponry and other means. In addition to the armour displayed outside, a vast hall houses vehicles and pieces of ordnance, as well as a diorama evoking the decisive struggle in the Falaise pocket. An archive film recounts the battle in both French and English.
The permanent exhibition is not limited to the armed confrontations, but also deals with aspects of a military campaign that are often ignored: the feeding of the troops, the care for the wounded, logistics, communication, engineering and so on. The significant role played by the Allied air forces is not forgotten either.
Bayeux was the first city in France that was liberated. Therefore the museum also recalls the highly symbolic visit of general Charles de Gaulle a few days after the landings. His enthusiastic reception by the population of Bayeux led the Allies (and specially U.S. president F.D. Roosevelt) to recognize him as the only legitimate leader of France.
Un carro armato americano Sherman davanti al Museo Memoriale della Battaglia di Normandia.
Un carro armato americano Sherman davanti al Museo Memoriale della Battaglia di Normandia.
‘France is for ever grateful’: Normandy memorial for British D-day troops unveiled
They fought on the beaches of Normandy, they fought on the landing grounds in the fields and streets and hills. As Winston Churchill had promised, they did not surrender.
On Sunday, the names of 22,442 soldiers under British command who died on D-day and the subsequent Battle of Normandy were engraved in stone as a permanent reminder of their sacrifice as a new British Normandy memorial was unveiled.
The ceremony on a hill at Ver-sur-Mer overlooking Gold Beach, where thousands of British and allied soldiers swarmed ashore on the morning of 6 June 1944, heard a video message from the Prince of Wales, the patron of the Normandy Trust, who said he regretted that Covid had made it impossible for him to be present in France.
He said this was not a reflection of the “enormous regard and admiration in which we hold our veterans” or that it “diminished our gratitude for the men and women whose names are now engraved in stone over Gold Beach”.
The British and French flags flying over the memorial would be “a reminder of the enduring and important ties between our two countries,” Prince Charles said.
Today, 77 years on, the surviving veterans of D-day were defeated in their efforts to return to France, not by war or even growing old unlike their fallen comrades, but by coronavirus.
For a second year, the former service personnel who took part in the largest sea invasion in history that marked the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany, were absent even as their numbers dwindle.
Three veterans living in France were present: Briton David Mylchreest, 97, formerly a 2nd lieutenant with the 43rd Wessex Division, who lives in Normandy and who landed at Arromanches six days after D-day.
“It’s a great privilege to be here today. We have wonderful cemeteries in the area and this is a final permanent reminder. It’s a reminder of the 22,000-plus young men who were gone so we could live the sort of lives we have now,” Mylchreest said.
The Patrouille de France flies over the British Normandy memorial during the opening ceremony on the 77th anniversary of D-day. Photograph: Kiran Ridley/Getty Images for Normandy Memorial Trust
Also present were American Charles Norman Shay, 96, from Connecticut, decorated for his valour in the second world war and the Korean war, who came ashore on Omaha Beach aged 17. and Léon Gaultier, 97, a Breton living in Normandy, who landed on Sword Beach on D-day as one of a first wave of French commandos to storm the beachfront and who is the last surviving member of the Kieffer commando of the Free French navy.
The ceremony was attended by the French armies minister, Florence Parly, who quoted Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches …” speech.
“Winston Churchill became the symbol of a people who would never surrender” Parly said. “We know what we owe the soldiers of liberty. Today we pay homage to the British soldiers. France will never forget. France is for ever grateful.”
Parly also laid a wreath at a memorial at the edge of the site for the estimated 20,000 French citizens killed during the Battle of Normandy, which lasted until the end of August 1944. Many of them were killed during allied bombing raids.
A French bagpiper played during the ceremony, stopping for a minute’s silence during which all that could be heard was birdsong.
Shortly afterwards, the Red Arrows and their French equivalent, the Patrouille de France, carried out flypasts.
On 6 June 1944, as part of Operation Overlord more than 156,000 allied troops landed by sea and air. About 4,300 people were killed, wounded or missing in action that one day.
The British Normandy memorial sits on a 20-hectare (50-acre) site set within landscaped gardens on a hill above Gold Beach, where British-led troops came ashore. It overlooks the British landing areas on the coast off Arromanches and the remains of Mulberry harbour.
Designed by the architect Liam O’Connor, the centrepiece is a giant bronze statue of three soldiers coming ashore, created by sculptor David Williams-Ellis. It is surrounded by 160 pillars forming a rectangle engraved with the names and ages of the soldiers under British command, who came from more than 30 nations, who died between 6 June and 31 August 1944. A Normandy Memorial Trust app can be downloaded giving details of the stories behind each of the names of those who fell.
The site, which veterans have long called for, is intended not only as a permanent single record of the names of those who died, but a place of reflection for what their sacrifice meant and means today.
Peter Ricketts, the president of the Normandy Memorial Trust, one of the driving forces behind the memorial, said: “We wanted to make the most of this site with its fabulous view over Gold Beach. Many of those who came ashore on D-day would have ended up on this particular piece of ground.
“It’s a place of reflection, calm and peace. We were not trying to make a big statement about Britain here. We want people to come and think about what happened here and how it is important.”
He said it was also about putting faces and stories to the names. “A lot of families came forward with personal stories, pictures, letters and we hope it is these stories of these young men and women who died that will speak to the younger generations,” he said.
Lord Ricketts said donations were still needed to maintain the memorial and build an education centre.
Edward Llewellyn, the British ambassador to France, told veterans: “This is your memorial. It stands here brightly in the Normand sun overlooking Gold Beach facing home.
“I know how reluctant our veterans are to be described as heroes. The real heroes are those who never came back – your mates. Their names are here now, together, thanks to you.”
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson also paid tribute to those who fought on D-Day, recalling General Eisenhower's words that as they landed on the Normandy beaches "the eyes of the world were on them".
"The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere marched with them. 77 years on, we thank and remember them," the prime minister said on Twitter.
Lord Edward Llewellyn, the British Ambassador to France, presided over the ceremony and was joined by Lord Peter Ricketts, chairman of Trustees at the Normandy Memorial Trust, and senior French guests.
The event also included coverage of the Royal British Legion's service of remembrance at the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, and provided an opportunity for Normandy veterans to have their Legion d'Honneur formally presented to them by the French ambassador to the UK.
The memorial is the culmination of years of campaigning by D-Day veterans.
Its £30m cost was funded by the UK government, private donations and fundraising efforts by D-Day veterans like 94-year-old Harry Billinge, who was appointed MBE for raising more than £25,000 towards it.
The 94-year-old from St Austell, Cornwall, said he was "overwhelmed" by the memorial and "had tears in my eyes".
"When I collect money for that memorial, I get a great calmness over me," he told the BBC.
"I lost a lot of good men, young men."
The memorial sits atop a hillside overlooking Gold Beach, one of three where soldiers landed on the morning of 6 June 1944.
The site consists of a temple-like structure containing 160 stone columns inscribed with the names of the dead, a bronze sculpture of three charging infantrymen by British sculptor David Williams-Ellis, and a wall featuring the names of those who were killed on D-Day itself.
Among those who lost their lives during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy are two women, both nurses: 27-year-old Sister Mollie Evershed and Sister Dorothy Anyta Field, 32.
Sister Evershed was on a Hospital Carrier ship, the Amsterdam, treating casualties from Juno Beach when the ship hit a mine.
As it sank, she and another nurse went below decks and carried 75 men to safety, helping them into a waiting lifeboat. But she and her fellow nurse went down with the ship.
She was posthumously mentioned in dispatches and awarded the King's Commendation for Brave Conduct.
The memorial also bears the name of Corporal Sidney Bates, awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of 23 for his extraordinary feat in holding Perrier Ridge in the face of an advance by two divisions including Panzer tanks.
Fearing his section would be overwhelmed, Corporal Bates - known as "Basher Bates - seized the Bren gun of a fallen comrade and charged forward, repeatedly rising to his feet again after being shot three times.
Even after a mortar brought him down, eyewitnesses said he continued firing from the ground, eventually forcing the enemy to retreat. He died two days later.
There is also a monument dedicated to the memory of French civilians who died during the period.
The British Normandy Memorial had originally been due to open last September but it was postponed due to the pandemic.
Lord Richard Dannatt, the former head of the British army, said it would stand as an "an everlasting memorial to the greatest amphibious operation ever to have taken place in history".
"It was so important that it played a significant role in ending the Second World War and bringing peace and freedom to Europe," he told BBC Breakfast.
He added that the constructing the monument was the "right and proper thing to have done" to honour fallen servicemen and women, but that it "perhaps should have been done 30 or 40 years ago".
The Bayeux War Cemetary
The Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest World War II Commonwealth cemetery in France and contains burials brought in from the surrounding districts and from hospitals that were located nearby.
The Bayeux War Cemetery contains 4,144 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 338 of them unidentified. There are also over 500 war graves of other nationalities, the majority of which are German. Of the Commonwealth burials, 3,195 are British and 181 Canadian, as well as several of Australia and New Zealand.
The Bayeux Memorial bears the names of more than 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died in the early stages of the campaign and have no known grave. They died during the landings in Normandy, during the intense fighting in Normandy itself, and during the advance to the River Seine in August.
Opposite the cemetary stands the Bayeux Memorial to the Missing.
Both the museum and cemetary are located in the southwestern outskirts of Bayeux in Normandy, which lies 24 kilometres northwest of Caen.
The Beginning of the War
The Battle of Normandy has been cited as one of the key successes of Allied France. History Learning Site notes that almost immediately they landed on the beaches of Normandy, on the 6th of June the year 1944, the Allies had to battle it out to have their way into the Normandy&rsquos heartland from the beaches. Even after this was achieved, there was another challenge of moving to Paris from the heartland of Normandy.
History Learning Site reports that though there was the element of surprise in the initial days of the war, especially, on the D-Day, this was no longer there after the occurrence of the landings. The Germans had prior information regarding the plans of the Allies, especially where they had planned to make their push. They thus avoided putting much of their focus on Pays de Calais. However, the Allies succeeded in deceiving the Germans prior to the D-Day. It is only in the post-D-Day that the commanders of the German army had identified critical areas where more effort was needed. Therefore, the Allies had to face a lot of difficulties as the fight continued.
Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum (Bayeux, France)
The Musée Mémorial Bataille de Normandie in Bayeux is one of the best D-Day Landing / Operation Overlord museums to see in Normandy, France. The museum covers the invasion of France by the Allies in June 1944 from the D-Day Landings to the end of the Battle of Normandy. The museum has a large collection of military hardware on display as well as uniforms, smaller arms, and items used by the military and soldiers during the Second World War.
Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum (Bayeux, France)
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Schlacht von Normandy Gedenkmuseum (Bayeux, Frankreich)
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Museo Conmemorativo Batalla de Normandía (Bayeux, Francia)
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Musée Mémorial Bataille de Normandie (Bayeux, France)
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Slag om Normandië Gedenkmuseum (Bayeux, Frankrijk)
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Battaglia del Museo Memoriale di Normandia (Bayeux, Francia)
The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum in Bayeux is at 2.300 m 2 the largest museum on the Battle of Normandy (others are bigger on D-Day and smaller operations). The museum gives a good overview making it worth visiting in preparation to seeing the D-Day landing beaches, related sights and more specialized museums. A large number of maps, diagrams, dioramas, video and audio material makes it possible to follow the progress of the Allied invasion almost day-by-day and even hour-by-hour for key events.
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Bitwy o Muzeum Pamięci w Normandii (Bayeux, Francja)
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Batalha do Museu Memorial da Normandia (Bayeux, França)
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Slaget vid Normandie Minnesmuseum (Bayeux, Frankrike)
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On June 8, 1944, the 607th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company of the U.S. First Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on French soil in World War II.  After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site.
It was dedicated on July 19, 1956, in the presence of American Admiral Kinkaid of the U.S. Navy, representing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and French General Ganeval, representing President René Coty.
Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax to honor the forces. It does not benefit from extraterritoriality, and is thus still French soil. This cemetery is managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, a small independent agency of the U.S. federal government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils. 
The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel. It covers 172.5 acres, and contains the remains of 9,388 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942 and four American women. 
Only some of the soldiers who died overseas are buried in the overseas American military cemeteries. When it came time for a permanent burial, the next of kin eligible to make decisions were asked if they wanted their loved ones repatriated for permanent burial in the U.S., or interred at the closest overseas cemetery.
Number of burials Edit
On June 19, 2018, Julius H.O. Pieper was laid to rest next to his twin brother, Ludwig J.W. Pieper, and became the 9,388th servicemember buried at the Normandy American Cemetery. 
These burials are marked by white Lasa marble headstones, 9,238 of which are Latin crosses (for Protestants and Catholics) and 151 of which are stars of David (for Jews). Since these were the only three religions recognized at the time by the United States Army, no other type of markers are present. 
The cemetery contains the graves of 45 pairs of brothers (30 of which buried side by side), a father and his son, an uncle and his nephew, 2 pairs of cousins, 3 generals, 4 chaplains, 4 civilians, 4 women, 147 African Americans and 20 Native Americans.
307 unknown soldiers are buried among the other servicemembers. Their headstones read “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY A COMRADE IN ARMS KNOWN BUT TO GOD”.
East of the Memorial lies the Wall of the Missing, where are inscribed the names of 1,557 servicemembers declared missing in action during Operation Overlord. 19 of these names bear a bronze rosette, meaning that their body was found and identified since the cemetery's dedication. 
Notable interments Edit
Among the burials at the cemetery are three recipients of the Medal of Honor, including Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of President Theodore Roosevelt. After the creation of the cemetery, another son of President Roosevelt, Quentin, who had been killed in World War I, was exhumed and reburied next to his brother Theodore Jr.
Notable burials at the cemetery include:
- , Medal of Honor recipient , Medal of Honor recipient  , son of President Theodore Roosevelt, Medal of Honor recipient , son of President Theodore Roosevelt, aviator killed in action in World War I and reburied next to the grave of his brother, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. , U.S. Army general, one of the two highest-ranking Americans to be killed in action in World War II
- Two of the Niland brothers, Preston and Robert, whose story inspired Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan
The Cemetery is divided into ten plots. It forms a latin cross, with the Chapel in its middle, and the Memorial and Wall of the Missing at its base.
It faces the United States, in the direction of a point between Eastport and Lubec, Maine. This is accidental, as the Cemetery was built parallel to the beach on the lands granted by the French.
The Memorial consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing maps and narratives of the military operations. It is built in medium-hard limestone from upper Burgundy. Two of the maps, designed by Robert Foster, are 32 feet long and 20 feet high.
At the center is a 22-foot bronze statue entitled The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves by Donald De Lue.
Over the arches of the Memorial is engraved “THIS EMBATTLED SHORE, PORTAL OF FREEDOM, IS FOREVER HALLOWED BY THE IDEALS, THE VALOR AND THE SACRIFICES OF OUR FELLOW COUNTRYMEN”.
At the feet of the Memorial is engraved both in English and French “IN PROUD REMEMBRANCE OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF HER SONS AND IN HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO THEIR SACRIFICES THIS MEMORIAL HAS BEEN ERECTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”.
The Memorial from the other side of the reflecting pool
"Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves"
"Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves"
Map of the landings on the Normandy beaches
Map of the air operations over Normandy
Map of the amphibious assault landings
Map of the military operations in Western Europe
Wall of the Missing Edit
The semi-circular gardens bear the 1,557 engraved names of service members declared missing in action in Normandy. Most of them were lost at sea, including over 489 in the sinking of the SS Léopoldville.
19 of these names bear a bronze rosette next to their name, meaning that their body was recovered and identified after the cemetery's dedication.
Above the walls is engraved, both in English and French,
“★ COMRADES IN ARMS WHOSE RESTING PLACE IS KNOWN ONLY TO GOD ★
★ HERE ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF AMERICANS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY AND WHO SLEEP IN UNKNOWN GRAVES ★ THIS IS THEIR MEMORIAL ♦ THE WHOLE EARTH THEIR SEPULCHER ★”.
At its center is engraved “TO THESE WE OWE THE HIGH RESOLVE THAT THE CAUSE FOR WHICH THEY DIED SHALL LIVE”, an abbreviation of General Dwight D. Eisenhower's dedication of the Golden Book in St Paul's Cathedral, London.
At the center of the cemetery lies a multi-confessional chapel. Its altar, in black and gold Pyrenean marble, reads “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH”. The stained glass behind it bears a Latin cross and present a star of David, as well as an alpha and an omega symbol, meant to represent all other religions.
On its ceiling lies a spectacular mosaic by Leon Kroll. Completed in 1953, it comprises 500,000 tiles and tells a full round story “of war and peace.” One side depicts Columbia (Goddess of Liberty) allegorically representing America blessing “her rifle-bearing son before he departs to fight overseas. Above him, a warship and a bomber push through sea and air toward land on the opposite side of the dome. There, a red-capped Marianne figure personifying France bestows a laurel wreath upon the same young man. His now lifeless body leans against her as she cradles his head in her lap. Above them, the return of peace is illustrated with an angel, a dove and a homeward-bound troop ship.”  These two figures can be seen again as statues, guarding the end of the cemetery. 
Outside is engraved on its wall, both in English and French, “THIS CHAPEL HAS BEEN ERECTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF HER SONS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE LANDINGS ON THE NORMANDY BEACHES AND THE LIBERATION OF NORTHERN FRANCE ★ THEIR GRAVES ARE THE PERMANENT AND VISIBLE SYMBOL OF THEIR HEROIC DEVOTION AND THEIR SACRIFICE IN THE COMMON CAUSE OF HUMANITY”.
On its roof is engraved “THESE ENDURED ALL AND GAVE ALL THAT JUSTICE AMONG NATIONS MIGHT PREVAIL AND THAT MANKIND MIGHT ENJOY FREEDOM AND INHERIT PEACE”.