The Nazi war machine, a previously unstoppable force, was on its heels.
As the Soviets pushed the Germans back from the East, and the allies held Italian ground in the South after taking Sicily, the Germans were forced to defend themselves on two fronts. It was time to strike a finishing blow.
In the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare, and after years of planning, the allies decided to push the Germans out of France for good. General Eisenhower, commander of the "D-Day" forces, was warned casualties could be as high as 75% for paratroopers alone. Eisenhower knew how important it was to establish a foothold in France, however, and thus, moved forward with the attack.
On the night of June 5, prepared for the possibility of the invasion resulting in failure, Eisenhower wrote a precautionary note, ultimately saying:
If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.
At 6:30 am on June 6, 1944, thousands of amphibious landers carrying 150,000 brave American, Canadian, and British forces arrive at five separate beaches in Normandy: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
Almost immediately, the battle becomes a haze of blood and death.
On Omaha and Juno, the first wave of American and Canadian forces suffered heavy casualties, many being killed by a hail of German gunfire before they could even reach the shores.
In a 9:00 am announcement to soldiers, General Eisenhower said:
The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
Omaha, the most fortified of the beaches and an American assignment, would see the heaviest fighting, with around 2,500 Americans killed there alone.
Despite the chaos of the fighting, Allied forces overcame initial setbacks and began making great progress on the beaches of Normandy.
As the day progressed, the beaches fell. By nightfall, the Allies had firmly entrenched themselves in French territory. Fascism’s shadow over Europe was finally being extinguished by the light.
Ultimately, D-Day would see the death of 2,811 American, 335 Canadian, and an estimated 2,500-3,000 British soldiers. Casualties for Allied forces were at least 10,000 men.
In a short blog, one cannot even begin to describe the full chaos of that day. What can be expressed is gratitude. In the face of the greatest evil the world has currently seen, an evil which sought to consume every great civilization before it, brave men fought back.
They fought, not just for country or flag — though these aspects are exceptionally admirable — but for what was right. For what was good.
To all who died — for flag, for country, in the name of righteousness and conquering evil — thank you. May your sacrifices never be forgotten.