It was 68 years ago today, June 6, 1944, the anniversary of a day that has been called “the 24 hours that saved the world.” Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, in the largest invasion of another country in the history of the world. That day marked the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany.
The bulk of the troops to make the assault were Americans and for that reason Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was in command. England’s Winston Churchill selected the name Overlord for the code name of the operation, which had been planned for more than a year. The Germans knew there would be an invasion but they didn’t know where the landings would take place. Allied intelligence used a number of “tricks” to confuse the Nazis as to where the invasion would occur. The Germans thought the landings would be where there was a port.
The Allies planned to “make a port” at the beaches of Normandy, near Caen, France. That’s what they did.
Gen. Eisenhower, a farm boy from Kansas and a West Point graduate, made one of the toughest decisions ever by a military commander as to when to invade. The troops and all of the weapons of war, and support arms, were ready in England. The Allied force of five divisions, 150,000 troops, and thousands of support forces, in the air and on the sea, waited for the word from Gen. Eisenhower to move out. The weather didn’t cooperate. It was stormy on June 5 when the invasion was planned.
A cautious weather forecast for June 6 was for clearing skies. Ike conferred with his staff of generals and admirals and hardly with any hesitation, he said, “OK. Let’s go.” The rest is history. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a radio address June 6, 1944, said: “Our sons, pride of the nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor... some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them.” Allied losses were high, but the Germans’ loss was much higher. Hitler’s Fortress Europe buckled. The march to Berlin began.
There aren’t many D-Day veterans left. Their exploits will live forever. This is an anniversary we should never forget. It is a reminder of the great sacrifices made by Americans of another generation for those of future generations. We owe them so much. The only way we can pay that debt is by remembering them.