CHARLESTON, W.Va —
On June 6, 1944, some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required months of extensive and painstaking planning.
Known at “Operation Overlord” and led by GEN Dwight D. Eisenhower, the invasion consisted of more than 5,000 ships and landing craft carrying troops and supplies, partnered with more than 11,000 aircraft to provide air cover and the tactical insertion of paratroopers behind German lines.
When Allied troops began their assault the morning of June 6, they were met with heavy German resistance. On Omaha Beach alone, more than 2,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. According to some estimates, more than 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives during D-Day, with thousands more wounded or missing.
The successful Normandy invasion began to turn the tide against the Nazis. A significant psychological blow, it also prevented Hitler from sending troops from France to build up his Eastern Front against the advancing Soviets. The following spring, on May 8, 1945, 75 years ago, the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and victory in Europe was official.
Today, on the anniversary of this moment in history, let us remember and honor those who charged the beaches, who parachuted behind enemy lines, who manned the battleships, who flew the planes, and especially those who laid down their lives for a free Europe, and a free world.
“That road to V-E day was hard and long, and travelled by weary and valiant men. And history will always record where that road began. It began here, with the first footprints of the beaches of Normandy.” – President George W. Bush
Their sacrifices and legacy shall not be forgotten.