68 years ago, 160,000 Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. Stretching 50 miles, the beaches were heavily fortified, yet forces were committed to victory. “We will accept nothing less than full victory,” said Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. 73,000 Americans took place in the operation, with 23,250 landing on Utah Beach, 34,250 on Omaha Beach, and 15,500 airborne troops. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion and by the end of June 6, 1944, the Allied forces had gained a significant foothold in the fight against Nazi Germany. The Allied Forces joined together as one unit, regardless of nation and creed, to fight Nazi Germany and defend their nation’s commitment to freedom.
More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded and numerous cemeteries across Europe stand as a moving memorial to the events of World War II. The Normandy American cemetery is the first American cemetery to be built in Europe during World War II. Averaging more than 1 million visitors annually, it covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 service members, the majority serving on D-Day. As we remember the men who fought and lost their lives on D-Day, we must remember that service members continue to fight for the same ideals in the Global War on Terrorism. Marking the turning point of World War II, these men of the Greatest Generation set a precedent that our current military continues to strive to live up to and imitate.
(Photos: Top: Omaha Beach today. Middle: Normandy American cemetery in France. Photos courtesy of American Battle Monuments Commission)