“They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Battle of Normandy is a famous battle that took place during World War II. It began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the Battle resulted in the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany. It was the biggest sea invasion in history. An estimated 4,400 Allied troops were killed on that day. A few months earlier, 700 soldiers were killed by Germans in a practice run for the invasion.
There are different opinions about the meaning of the D in D-Day. Some say the D simply stands for Day, a common designation used for any important military operation. According to Brigadier General Robert Schultz, General Eisenhower’s executive assistant in 1964, the D meant “departed date”, a term used for amphibious operations.
During the Battle, approximately 156,000 soldiers from Canada, Britain, America, Belgium, Australia, France Greece, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Norway, the Netherlands and Rhodesia landed on a 50 mile stretch of beaches along the coast of Normandy in France. An additional 5,000 ships and 11,000 airplanes were also part of the landing. Within 11 months, and approximately 3 ½ years after the United States had entered the war, Germany was defeated.
This year marks the 78th anniversary of the invasion. Celebrations are held across Normandy each year in recognition of the sacrifices of the troops who fought there in 1944. In America, the day is recognized with memorials, ceremonies and exhibitions.
On June 6, 2001, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA was dedicated by President George W. Bush. At the center of the monument is a 44 ft. tall arch, inscribed with the name “0verlord.” Around 60,000 people visit the monument each year.