Never give in

By David Bailey, General Manager

June 2020

The code name was Operation Overlord. It required more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops to land on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of France’s heavily fortified northern coastline in Normandy.

In January 1944, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Operation Overlord. Originally, the date for D-Day was supposed to be June 5, but the weather forced him to delay the landing by 24 hours.

When the time came to start the invasion, Eisenhower told his troops: “You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.” He also told them, “We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good luck!”

Even so, Eisenhower knew success wasn’t guaranteed. Before the invasion began, he drafted a letter in case of failure that can still be found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In it, he praises the bravery of his troops and accepts full blame for the defeat. The letter sets an example of how our leaders should carry themselves during challenging times. Never quit. But when failures do happen, accept responsibility for them.

By dawn on June 6, thousands of soldiers were hunkered down in their landing craft, otherwise known as the Higgins boat. Though born in Nebraska, Andrew Higgins entered the lumber business in Mobile, Alabama, in 1906 and would go on to build the Higgins boat in New Orleans. Eisenhower later said, “Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us.”

Each boat held about 36 soldiers. I wonder what they were thinking as they slowly moved toward those beaches with bombs and gunfire all around them. Maybe they had the words of their general in mind, knowing that the world was watching and victory was the expectation. They never gave in, and Eisenhower never had to send his failure letter.

I had the chance to see those beaches in the early 1970s. Even decades after the invasion I could still see the scars of that day. One day, the scars on those beaches and the ones carried by the men who fought there will fade, but the scars on history will remain. I hope they do, because the actions of those soldiers should be with our country until the end.

In recent months, our country and this cooperative have faced many challenges. But we always choose to press on and never give in. When it comes to the virus that has shut down our country, I don’t think I can put it any better than Winston Churchill: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” The virus and fear are our enemies, and we will win.

One group of people I know who never give in is our linemen at South Alabama Electric Cooperative. This month, we celebrate Lineman Appreciation Day in Alabama. But for me, every day is a time for lineman appreciation.

We should be especially thankful after the work our linemen put in to restore power this April. Straight-line winds and tornadoes did as much damage to our system as Hurricane Opal in 1995, knocking out power for 73% of our system. SAEC’s linemen were joined by others from cooperatives across the state who helped repair approximately 150 broken poles on our electric system in four and a half days.

It was just another reminder of what an honor it is to be part of the cooperative family. I am very proud of our entire restoration team for making so many repairs without a single injury. What a blessing. In the electric cooperative family, we play to win and give God the glory for our blessings. 

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