News of the D-Day invasion is displayed in the window of Peter A. Dolan Restaurant on Greenmount Avenue. (Baltimore Sun file photo, June 7, 1944)
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Baltimoreans stopped, and waited.
The invasion was supposed to have happened two days before, on a Saturday, but it didn’t.
Instead, D-Day fell on a Tuesday, the most normal day of the week, when world-changing events like D-Day and 9/11 will sometimes fall.
There was no public announcement of the invasion, and most of Baltimore was still asleep when the first news of the Allied landings was reported.
The mood in the morning was jubilant, but as the day wore on, the mood of excitement was tempered by anxiety.
There was work to be done, at USO offices, at the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, where, according to the Baltimore Sun (“Invasion News Taken Calmly by Baltimore,” June 7, 1944), “company officials reported an immediate spurt in production,” and at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, where a rally was held at noon.
And there was nothing to be done. Civilians gathered around the radio, or they prayed. Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin led 1,000 municipal workers in a special service in the War Memorial building. Churches and synagogues opened early. At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, all pews were occupied at the noon Holy Communion service.
Bars and taverns were closed, at the request of Gov. Herbert R. O’Conor, and movie theaters stayed empty. “At night, Charles and Baltimore streets were quiet and dark,” The Sun reported.
Tuesday ended, and the fighting continued.
A June 11 editorial, “How to Counteract the Invasion Frustration,” recognized how “trivial and smug” readers might feel their labors to be in contrast to the events unfolding “along the Channel coast,” and commended Baltimoreans for “buckling to their jobs.”
The editorial advised, “Any civilian who feels a sense of frustration coming on … can counteract it by buying a larger bond than he had intended to buy.”