Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword, and Juno. Those are the names of the beaches of Normandy that the Allied Forces surged forward on 72 years ago today, in the largest amphibious assault ever launched. Operation Neptune, better known as D-Day, took place on June 6, 1944 in northern France. Part of a larger operation called Overlord that was put together by an assortment of Allied commanders in World War II, the massive invasion was in the planning stages since 1942. Predominantly orchestrated by British and American strategists, the main man in charge was American General and later President Dwight D. Eisenhower, however he was by no means the only one calling the shots, as Air Marshal Arthur Tedder and General Bernard Montgomery, along with others, were also major players. In fact, though Eisenhower was the Supreme commander, it was mostly a British run campaign. Similarly, the Yanks and Brits didn’t do it all alone. Troops from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Greece, as well as free French fighters, all contributed to the over 160,ooo Allied troops who made the first wave of liberating France and the rest of Nazi-occupied western Europe their mission.
D-Day was the turning point for the Allies in Europe in the largest international conflict to ever occur. Much of this you probably already know, but in case you are not as elaborated on aspects of D-Day as you would like, then check out some quick information at these websites:
Depending on where you live, you can learn more or pay tribute to those involved in Operations Neptune and Overlord at museums like the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, England; and memorials like the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia; and cemeteries like the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.
Of course, there are countless sources of information online and in standard libraries to offer more than I could ever tell you about this significant day. Even the biggest history buffs could learn something new. Do you know why it was called D-Day? Well, that is not exactly nailed down completely, but there is this to consider.
I used to look forward to this day as a kid because it was usually one of the last days, if not the last day of the school year. My grandmother’s birthday was the next day, so I had a party and cake to look forward to too! I’d arrive home excited for the freedom of summer, not yet aware that over 209,000 Allied soldiers died fighting for basic human freedom throughout the Battle of Normandy that started on June 6th and lasted until August in 1944.
Whether you watch Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, or The Longest Day; or visit a venue like the National WWII Museum in New Orleans; or if you simply take a moment of silent appreciation out of enjoying your day, remember the men who lived, bled, died, survived, or were in any way involved in D-Day, and thank them for making your world a better one.
Float like a butterfly,