On June 6, 1944, some of the bravest men the world has ever seen began the Allied invasion of Normandy—known as D-Day. Code named Operation Overlord, this epoch marked the beginning of the end of World War II. To this day, it’s remembered as one of the most prolific battles in history. Those who waged war that day were not just defending American values but the rights of people everywhere.
On this day, more than 160,000 troops arrived on the beaches of France’s Normandy coastline. Before the sun rose, paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines and began taking over railways and bridges. At dawn, battleship gunnery began breaking down the German encampments along the coast. Some 156,000 American, British, Canadian and French troops fought tooth-and-nail to make their way to the shores of Normandy—along with more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircrafts.
It was, and still is, the largest invasion force history has ever seen.
By the end of that fateful day, more than 4,000 members of the Allied Forces perished.
Before D-Day began, Franklin Roosevelt reportedly led the US in prayer, and President Eisenhower delivered a special message. As sources report: “Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower issued this charge: ‘You are about to embark upon a great crusade. … The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. … You will bring about…the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe. … Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened; he will fight savagely. … And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.’”
Decades later, it is important we continue to remember these patriots who fought for our freedom. We must recognize our lives would not be what they are if not for their sacrifice.