The world is pausing today to remember the allied invasion of Normandy 75 years ago today and to honor those who braved those deadly beaches to beat back, and eventually crush, the Nazi stranglehold on Europe.
Code-named “Operation Overlord,” D-Day was history’s largest air and sea invasion, involving around 160,000 troops on that day itself and many more in the ensuing Battle of Normandy. Of those 73,000 were from the United States, while 83,000 were from Britain and Canada. Troops started landing overnight from the air, then were joined by a massive force by sea on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats.
So many of those who fought were young, in their late teens and early 20s. And many of those who landed on those beaches never made it back home.
A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself, including 2,501 Americans. More than 5,000 were injured.
In the ensuing Battle of Normandy, 73,000 Allied forces were killed and 153,000 wounded. The battle — and especially Allied bombings of French villages and cities — killed some 20,000 French civilians.
The exact German casualties are not known, but historians estimate between 4,000 and 9,000 men were killed, wounded or missing during the D-Day invasion. Some 22,000 German soldiers are among the many buried around Normandy.
Estimates say only a few thousand D-Day veterans are alive today, all in their 90s or older.
But 75 years ago, these fresh-faced youngsters saved the world from one of the darkest threats it has ever faced. Their heroism, service and sacrifice should never be forgotten.