On D-Day, June 6, 1944, during World War II, more than 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel and landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy. The codeword for the largest amphibious military operation in history was Operation Overlord. More than 5,000 landing craft and hundreds of aircraft carrying parachutists supported the land invasion. Thousands of additional aircraft provided air support for the operation. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops—Americans, British, and Canadians—had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches. Some of the beaches were captured with little opposition, with the exception of Omaha beach where troops encountered land mines and heavy fire, with some 2,000 soldiers losing their lives. By the end of the D-Day invasion, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were either dead or wounded—the majority of them Americans. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were ready to begin their march across Europe. Within three months, the northern part of France was freed and the invasion forces were preparing to enter Germany, where they would begin the long, hard march across Europe in the battle to defeat Hitler’s army. Many of the Americans who died in the D-Day invasion are buried in the American military cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer atop the bluffs within view of Omaha beach. The long rows of white crosses serve as a solemn reminder of the high cost of defending freedom.

From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution