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Today is once again that time where we remember those great Americans and the allied forces who sacrificed their lives storming the beaches of Normandy, France to stop the Nazi invasions of Europe by Hitler and his German armies:
June 6, 1944: It was perhaps the most pivotal day in World War II. More than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France, with the support of 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft. The Normandy beaches were chosen for D-Day because they lay within range of air cover, and were less heavily defended than the obvious objective of the Pas de Calais, the shortest distance between Great Britain and the continent.
Airborne drops at both ends of the beachheads were intended to protect the flanks, as well as open up roadways to the interior. Six divisions were to land on the first day; three U.S., two British and one Canadian. Two more British divisions and one U.S. division were to follow up after the assault had cleared the way through the beach defenses.
Disorganization, confusion, incomplete or faulty implementation of plans characterized the initial phases of the landings. This was especially true of the airborne landings that were badly scattered, as well as the first wave units landing on the assault beaches. To their great credit, most of the troops adapted to the disorganization. In the end, the Allies achieved their objective.
The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops. As Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said in a broadcast to the citizens of occupied Europe following D-Day, “Although the initial assault may not have been in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching.”
Here’s a short video about D-Day:
It’s easy to look back at this now and forget just how monumental these sacrifices were on the day that led to the defeat of the Nazi armies. The US was embroiled in two world wars, having been attacked by the imperial Japanese just a few years before at Pearl Harbor. Now we were sending our men into a difficult fight with allied forces from other countries and so many of them paid the ultimate price to pave the way for the liberation of Europe.
These men are truly part of the greatest generation and we should never forget their sacrifice.