June 6, 2021

June 6, 1944

Why D-Day Matters

Turned The Tide of WWII

  • Strategy: Invade German-occupied France by air & sea, weaken the Nazis, & take back Europe.
  • Results: Through brutal fighting, "the Allies" successfully invaded enemy territory, a catalyst for the beginning of the end for the Germans (at no small cost).
  • Just A Note: The "Allies" referenced on D-Day mainly refers to U.S., English, & Canadian soldiers, though many other countries combated Nazi Germany.

Largest Air, Land, Sea Military Operation Ever

  • More than 2.8M soldiers fought to liberate Europe at that time, about half were Americans.
  • "Allies" = America, UK, Canada, joined by Australian, Belgian, Czech, Dutch, French, Greek, New Zealand, Norwegian, Rhodesian, & Polish forces.
  • 150,000+ soldiers participated in the D-Day invasion.

Why "Utah" & "Omaha"

  • Invasion took place on 5 Normandy beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, & Sword; Americans took Utah & Omaha; Brits & Canadians took the rest.
  • Germans had superior fire power, experience, & position, but the Allies convinced the Nazis to hold back some resources for another invasion elsewhere which never occurred.
"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you…We will accept nothing less than full Victory!"

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, June 6, 1944

The "D" in "D-Day"

  • "D-Day" doesn't refer to "death" or destruction despite the many wounded & killed in action.
  • The military uses generic "D-Day" for the day an operation launches.
  • Total # of Allies killed in action in one day remains a mystery: est = 4,400 (est. 2,500 U.S. fatalities).
  • Context: 2,400+ Americans have died serving in Afghanistan in nearly two-decades.
"The worst part of that was sitting in the channel waiting to go in, because the German shells were landing pretty close. We never took a direct strike. We were pretty lucky. What was going through my mind was, what were we going to get into?"

Jasper Madonia, now 100-years-old, reflecting on landing at Utah Beach, Normandy, France on D-Day, 1944. He served as part of the U.S. Army Fourth Division Infantry. Madonia reflected on his military service & those lost: "God had his hand on me, I guess."

For many soldiers, D-Day was just the beginning of a long string of battles that eventually led to the liberation of Europe, forever altering its future.

We put two accounts of survivors, both young men on that day, on our source page. The U.S. government estimates that there are fewer than 1,000 survivors of D-Day still alive today.

'God had his hand on me': Springfield WWII vet recalls Memorial Day past, D-Day landing

Berks man recounts his service aboard Navy ship on D-Day

Library of Congress – This Day In History

by Jenna Lee,