Few events that occurred in the 20th century will gain notice hundreds of years from now. One that will be remembered happened seventy-two years ago today. World War Two had been going on for almost five years. There had been headway in the Mediterranean but Hitler still had control of Europe.
Germany knew an attack was coming but not sure where or when. Pas de Calais seemed most likely since it was closest to England. Normandy seemed less likely since soldiers would have to cross a wide beach and climb a cliff while receiving withering gunfire. The Allies went to great lengths to fool the Germans. A totally fictitious army was created headed by Patton.
This would be by far the largest, most complicated battle in history. There were nearly 7,000 ships and landing craft and over 10,000 airplanes. The fate of Europe hung in the balance. If the attack failed, Hitler might have stayed in control for years.
Finally the day came. Dwight Eisenhower, the commander of the operation, had two statements prepared; one if successful, one if not. It was a bloody fight. Over 4,400 Allied soldiers died that day and there were an estimated 10,000 casualties. By the end of the day, they had achieved a foothold in France. The war was over within a year.
Relatively few soldiers are still alive today. We should take a moment to appreciate what they accomplished.
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