June 6, 2009
65 years ago today, an event took place that was a turning point in World War II, on a beaches of Normandy, France. The landings took place on a 50 miles stretch of the Normandy Coast, as 160,000 Troops landed on June 6, 1944. According to the D-Day museum, the Allied invasioin tok place with several overlapping operations.
“The armed forces use codenames to refer to the planning and execution of specific military operations. Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The assault phase of Operation Overlord was known as Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune began on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and ended on June 30, 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine on 19 August.”1
On D-Day the Germans had 50 divisions stationed in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Allied Troops faced well prepared German forces, who had large intricate concrete bunkers. They also took advantage of the natural landscape, by using cliffs and hills overlooking the beach as defense points. Allied Forces however overcame the distinct advantage that the Germans had and won the battle; but not without great cost.
Weather forecasts for D-Day weren’t favorable to the Allied Forces. However, despite that, General Dwight D. Eisenhower made the decision to attack on June 6th. At 2am, divisions of American and British were dropped behind the beaches. After 4 1/2 hours of intense fighting to gain points of egress, assault waves of Troops began to land on the beaches. Over 5,000 ships, as well as 4,000 ship to shore craft were used to facilitate the attack. The battle was intense and bloody and many lost their lives, many were buried there.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, covers 172.5 acres of land and contains the remains of 9,387 US Soldiers who lost their lives there. On the Walls of the Missing in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.2
It’s important that we remember those who lost their lives on those beaches and those who survived. These men served proudly and willingly made the ultimate sacrifice, to ensure that Europe was free from the tyranny of the Nazi Germans. Their heroism is a shining example to those serving in the US Military today. Just like the brave men at Normany, our Troops today, serve in Afghanistan and Iraq, fighting to ensure that the people of those countries are able to finally experience freedom. While many of the survivors of D-Day are no longer among us, their actions continue to provide inspiration to many. I ask that everyone take a moment today to remember, honor and pay your respects to the Heroes of the Normandy invasion. May those who are no longer with us, rest in eternal peace.