Sunday, June 06, 2010

June 6, 1944

(Soldiers going ashore at Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944)

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the largest amphibious invasion ever launched. Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Europe, began at dawn, on June 6, 1944. Operation Neptune, as the beach landings were called, took place on five beaches codenamed Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword, and Utah.

American, Canadian, and British troops hit the beaches shortly after dawn, and the casualties in that first wave were enormous. Many men drowned in less than two feet of water due to the weight of their own gear. Those who made it ashore were in direct line of the Germans atop the cliffs in their bunkers. Equipment failed. Troops ended up in sectors for which they were unprepared.

(D-Day Landing Photographs by Robert Capa)

Yet, despite everything that went wrong, the invasion is considered a success and began the liberation of Europe.

Take a moment to stop and think about those men (and women) who took those beaches at dawn sixty-six years ago. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have felt like, on those rough seas, staring at the mighty task that lay ahead, and to know there was no turning back.

(Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, France)

Omaha Beach 63 years after the invasion.

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