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Remembering D-Day

On June 6, 1944 the United States military participated in the largest multinational amphibious landing and operational military airdrop in history. This assault led to France’s liberation from the German military and the eventual defeat of the Nazis. By the end of the D-Day invasion, more than 9,000 allied troops were dead or wounded. Eighty years later, we all remain forever indebted to WWII veterans for their selfless service and sacrifice and proudly recognize and honor D-Day 80.

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Each year hundreds of U.S. armed forces members stationed in Europe, and from U.S.-based units with historical links to D-Day, join service members and civilians from all over Europe to recognize and honor the men and women of the “Greatest Generation” by performing music, marching in parades and honoring the actions and sacrifices of allied nations during the commemorative period of 1-9 June in the region of Normandy, France.

June 6, 1944, marked a pivotal shift during World War II. It’s the day nearly 160,000 Allied forces invaded the beaches of Normandy and laid the foundation to liberate Nazi-occupied Western Europe. These troops changed the course of World War II. In one day, 4,415 Allied troops were killed. It was a staggering loss of life, yet set the Allied forces on a path to victory.

While thousands of Allied paratroopers and glider troops dropped behind enemy lines to secure bridges and exit roads, the amphibious portion got underway at 06:30. Gold, Sword, Juno, and Utah beach forces faced less severe battle engagement than the troops landing on Omaha Beach encountered. It was not until June 11 that Normandy was secured and the Germans were pushed out. By the end of August 1944, the Allies had reached the Seine River and liberated Paris.

The five landing beaches were assigned code names. The two US Operations were named for the hometowns of random NCOs – Utah and Omaha. The three British and Canadian beaches were named for types of fish: Goldfish, Swordfish, and Jellyfish. Sword and Gold stuck, but Jelly needed to be scratched and replaced by Juno.

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D-Day 80

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer is located on a cliff high above Omaha Beach. The almost 9,400 American graves, marked by gleaming white crosses and Stars of David are a sight that give you pause. Lined in military precision, the makers seem to extend into infinity. They evoke a solemnity that is reflected in the quietness even when filled with hundreds of visitors.