On June 5, 1944, 53 year-old Dwight Eisenhower knew that his success or failure in life, and the entire future of the free world, hinged upon the weather over the English Channel the next morning. In his pocket he had a carefully-worded address explaining his decision, and was prepared to take full responsibility for what happened next.
This might be my favorite entry in A Book of Ages, because it is a book about decisions and moments that become watersheds. Everything turned out all right. The weather was good, the Germans had been fooled enough by the allies' various deceptions to deploy fewer troops above Omaha and Utah beaches than they might have. The war was won on that day, or we knew it would eventually be won. Eisenhower went on to be an affable, grandfatherly president of a prosperous country enjoying its bounty and worried about very little but the mortgage and the possibility of complete annihilation by Communists.