June 6th, 2012
09:03 AM ET

D-Day: Take a moment to remember

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.

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Filed under: France • History • Military • U.S. • Veterans
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. SamDonnely

    None of the soldiers died for:

    Africa for the Africans,Asia for the Asians,white countries for EVERYBODY!

    Mass immigration and "assimilation" forced on ALL white countries and ONLY white countries.

    Genocide is genocide,it makes no difference if it is accomplished by bullets and mustard gas,or mass immigration and social engineering.

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-white.

    June 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ghostrdr

    My father joined the army at the age of 31 years old. He felt it was important to serve his country. He was a member of the 29th infantry division that landed on Omaha Beach. He used to tell me about that day, the days on the landing ships prior to the invasion, those who never made it to the beach. We used to celebrate June 6th as a second birthday for him as he always said that every day he had past that date was one that God gave to him.

    June 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. mickey1313

    Happy 85th birthday Lloyd Miller.

    June 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mike

    Remembering my late Great -Uncle George Washington Tweed a SSG Medic with the 12th Armored Division. I have inherited His medic bag , filled with stuff and an M1905 Bayonet from that time. Also the late Mr. Sparks a Signal Corpsman with the 35th Infantry Division all 5 campaigns. And Mr. Hoke a Rifleman with the 90th Infantry Division , Combat Infantryman's Badge Havin' and still going strong. .. Heroes of Mine.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. systeil

    as a hidden child of the holocaust i have remembered for 68 years the village i was in and the first american tank that came into view. the people of the village have told me of them being grateful in my number and family return trips over the years.

    June 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kober

    Thank you all who sacrificed their lives on the beaches and in the air on June 6, 1944. Your sacrifice well never be forgotton. We live safe today because of those who served for all.

    June 7, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. larry5

    Is it true that Obama chose not to remember D-Day? His handlers must think that his fund raising is falling behind and they must concentrate on more important issues. Maybe remembering our history is not part of Obama's new America.

    June 7, 2012 at 5:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mary

    It doesn't say who took these photos, but I'd like to pay homage to that photographer.
    Well done sir! :) Excellent work...

    June 7, 2012 at 7:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Omg... Is the real deal?

    It is appropriate time to make some plans for the longer term and it's time to be happy. I have read this put up and if I may just I wish to suggest you few interesting issues or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles regarding this article. I desire to read more things about it!

    June 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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