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After finishing his brief radio speech hailing the fall of Rome, President Roosevelt had gone to his bedroom with black out blinds down. He read dispatches there until the invasion was officially announced. General George Marshall, asked if he had spent the night at his desk, said simply: "I had done my work before." The evening before he had been at the Soviet Embassy, where he received the Order of Suvorov; then had gone to his Fort Myer, Va. home to sleep.
Across the land, generally, the mood was solemn. There was no sudden fear, as on that September morning in 1939 when the Germans marched into Poland; no sudden hate, as on Pearl Harbor day. This time, moved by a common impulse, the casual churchgoers as well as the devout went to pray.
The U.S. people had wondered for weeks how they would behave on Dday.
When it came, they went about their regular business. Race tracks called off their programs for the day; many stores closed at noon. The citizens stuck to their radios, read newspaper extras as they rolled off the presses, sat and thought, stood and drank, knelt and prayed.
Londoners acted like good Englishmen.
U.S. correspondents rushed to Piccadilly Circus, hoping to see something like Times Square on New Year's Eve. They found Londoners going to work as usual. At the Billingsgate fish market, fishmongers used their famed and choicest profanity in explaining to housewives why they were out of fish: even fishing smacks might be in the invasion. There was a note of helplessness, too. The wife of a British major with the invasion forces, remembering the old Irish song And Women Must Wait and Weep, exclaimed: "I wish they'd bomb London, too. It would make me feel better."
In Moscow the people literally danced in the streets. There the populace, from Stalin down to the lowest party member, had waited for two and a half years for the Second Front. This was the happiest capital. The Russian radio called it "The Victory Front." In the lobby of the Metropole Hotel, an ecstatic Muscovite threw her arms around an American correspondent, exclaimed: "We love you, we love you, we love you. You are our real friends."
German civilians did not get the news for several hours after invasion began. In Northern France, the long-waiting, long-suffering populace heard it in the drone of planes and the roar of guns.