It was 68 years ago today that D-Day, one of the most decisive battles, marked the beginning of the end for World War II. On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops swept up the fortified beaches of Normandy, France, helping to defeat the Nazi regime in Europe.
But it was not without great loss. Nearly 10,000 troops were killed or wounded. It is the largest seaborne invasion in history.
The invasion's code name was Operation Overlord, commanded by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He wanted the troops to land in Normandy because it was west of where the German troops and artillery were gathered.
The invasion was initially planned for June 5, 1944, but rough seas forced a postponement. Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword were used as code names for the landing beaches.
D-Day itself is code, as well: D-Day and H-Hour stand for the secret time/day an operation is scheduled to begin.
Here's a timeline of the events leading up to D-Day:
-August 19, 1942 – A raid on the French port of Dieppe that resulted in heavy losses convinces D-Day planners to land on the beaches. Discussions and preparations for an Allied invasion across the English Channel begin.
-1944 – The Germans expect an invasion along the north coast of France, but they do not know where. They build up their troops and artillery near Calais, where the English Channel is the narrowest.
-June 5, 1944 - Between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., 13,000 U.S. paratroopers and gliders carrying heavy equipment leave England to begin the invasion of France by air.
-June 6, 1944 – D-Day begins.
-Overnight, about 2,700 ships with landing craft and more than 160,000 troops cross the channel. Minesweepers go ahead to clear the water and paratroopers drop behind German lines to capture bridges and railroad tracks. The landing includes more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 airplanes.
- Between midnight and 8 a.m. – Allied forces fly more than 14,000 sorties.
- 6:30 a.m. – Troops from the United States, UK, Canada and France come ashore on a 60-mile front in the largest seaborne invasion in history.
-Allied confirmed fatalities: 2,499 from the United States, UK and Canada, and another 1,915 from other Allied countries, bringing the total to 4,414. Overall, more than 9,000 were killed or wounded.
-In a broadcast to the people of occupied Europe, Eisenhower says: "Although the initial assault may not have been in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching."
-In an order to his troops, Eisenhower says: "The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.... We will accept nothing less than full victory."
On D-Day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used a national radio address to pray for the troops.
See original footage of the Allied forces landing on the beaches of Normandy after years of planning and training.
T.J. Holmes spoke with veterans on CNN in 2011 who recounted their experiences on D-Day.
iReporters have shared their stories and photos from D-Day with us in the past, like this visit to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France.
Were you there on D-Day or do you have a friend or family member who landed on the beaches of Normandy? Please share with us in the comments below or on CNN iReport.