Seventy-four years ago this week, 132,000 soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in the greatest amphibious and air invasion ever attempted in wartime.
6th June 1944: American assault troops land at Omaha Beach in Normandy supported by Naval gunfire. (Photo by Wall/MPI/Getty Images)
More than 4,400 Allied soldiers never made it home.
A Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP) is approaching Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, 6th June 1944. To the right is another LCVP. The soldiers are protecting their weapons with Pliofilm covers against the wetness. These U.S. Army infantry men are amongst the first to attack the German defenses probably near Ruquet Saint Laurent sur Mer. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
June 6, 1944 stands out in our collective memory as a day of enormous personal heroism and sacrifice, and it will always be a hallowed date for Americans as well as for the French people, for whom D-Day marked the start of their liberation from Nazi tyranny.
The United States Armed Forces that fought and won World War II provide an enduring example of courage and heroism. During the war, 16 million Americans put on a uniform.
US troops travel the English Channel on a barge en route to Normandy, France for the D-Day Invasion, World War II. (Photo by Anthony Potter Collection/Getty Images)
American citizens set an example of working together, sharing sacrifices, and honoring the nation above individual needs. Americans paid high income taxes, rationed their food, worked in government-funded industries and sent their sons to die overseas to defend freedom.
That is the spirit of D-Day. The greatest generation could not have done it alone.
They also had the help of their allies.
Second-wave troops of 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, probably Highland Light Infantry of Canada, disembarking with bicycles from LCI(L)s (Landing Craft Infantry Large) onto ‘Nan White’ Beach, JUNO Area at Bernieres-sur-Mer, shortly before midday on 6 June 1944. (Photo by Canadian Official Photographer/ IWM via Getty Images)
On June 6, 1944, more British Commonwealth troops landed on the Normandy beaches than Americans. The commander of the ground forces that day was a Brit, General Bernard Montgomery, as were the commanders of the naval and air forces on that day.
Victory over the Germans in France that summer came only through close partnership with our British and Canadian allies who fought and died alongside American boys to defend freedom.
Hundreds of American paratroopers drop into Normandy, France on or near D-Day, June 6, 1944. Their landing, part of an all-out Allied assault from air and sea, was the beginning of a sweep through Europe that would finally defeat Nazi Germany. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)