Saturday, June 6, was D-Day – the anniversary of the date in 1944 when 150,000 allied troops landed on France’s northwest coastline. It was the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany and World War II.
For 75 years, D-Day veterans have returned to the beaches of Normandy on June 6 to mark the anniversary of the landings.
“Since 1945, every year we have paid homage to the men who fought for our freedom,” said Jean-Marc Lefranc, the president of the D-day Landing Committee. “This year, for the first time it will not be open to the public.”
Last year, for the 75th anniversary, an essay from the Veterans of Foreign Wars asked Americans to pause to remember the more than 156,000 brave Allied troops who landed along the 50-mile stretch of Normandy’s beaches in an effort to liberate German-occupied France and bring an end to the Nazi regime.
“With over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and more than 150,000 service men, the Allied Forces’ Normandy beach landing invasion of Europe was, and remains, the largest air, land and sea operation ever undertaken.
“Sand-colored beaches turned to crimson, and bodies littered the beaches and water. Yet, because of their valor, sacrifice and sheer determination, by the end of the day the Allied Forces had successfully breached the Germans’ fortress. But our success on D-Day came at a very steep price, with nearly 10,000 casualties and 4,000 confirmed dead.”
About 300,000 U.S. World War II veterans are alive in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which has published projections of the number of living veterans from 2015 to 2045. World War II service members’ numbers have dwindled from around 939,000 in 2015.
We recall D-Day and are thankful for the bravery and heroism of our veterans. The freedom we enjoy today might not have been possible without their efforts.