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. Bob

    Thank you to all those who served our country doing time of war, police actions and those without a name.
    America is what it is because you served. Let us hope that wars will not be needed in the future, instead let us
    try PEACE world wide.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Amen Bob. Very well said! God Bless them all!

      June 6, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. saywhat

    W W 11 saw American soldiers and all Americans show the world their mettle and valor as US took on enemies our size ,,even more advanced. Normandy landing is just one example of how bravely our men fought and triumphed.

    Those days are long gone. But still make us proud.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • PEDO BEAR

      WW11?! I know there was a WWII, but I guess I slept through 3-11.

      June 6, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • son of a ww2 vet

      there was a teacher talking to her class about history,and mentioned world war "eleven"....really...she did...it was on the news...

      June 6, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa S

      It is not WW 11. Go back and learn your history. There were only two world wars and this one is World War Two.

      June 6, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Thanks saywhat . I heard You. according to these other guys Cold War Veterans were preparing for WW 111 .. I did like the teacher's reference to WW 'Eleven' , is she Blonde ??

      June 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. marinedd05

    Wow!
    Thanks CNN for these great photographs.

    Tears welled in my eyes!

    June 6, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • PEDO BEAR

      Don't thank CNN. Thank Wikipedia. That's where CNN grabbed the photos from. So you should be thanking the Wikipedia D-Day uploaders.

      June 6, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. DavidW0909

    While I am much too young to have served in WWII I have traveled to the D-Day Beaches and American Cemetary and if you've never been and would like to gain an appreciation for what those men did then I would highly recommend it. Walking through the Cemetary is very humbling and seeing the rows and rows of crosses and stars of David will choke you up. I remember walking out onto Omaha Beach, you see this massive expanse of beach and the hills that rise above it and realized just how an effective killing field the Germans had when the Americans came ashore. I guess they had to come ashore there but it was astounding to think about it, those boys were literally "fish in a barrell". It was an experience that I will never forget and cherish for the rest of my life.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Longmont, CO

      David, I totally agree. I had the exact same thoughts and feelings. when I visited. Walking on the same soil; Walking through the cemetery. I randomly picked one grave to kneel down and thank him and let him know how much I appreciated what he gave up. I took a picture so I could see if I could find any information on him when I came back.

      June 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. saywhat

    I would say Amen to that @ Bob
    But the mind set , the whole thought process in the socio-political strata has changed to an ugly and irrational bent. This began as we entered the beginning of the last decade. Perhaps even before. We ignored the lessons of history and what leaders like Eisenhower had warned us about.
    It has been a road to decline since then.
    Wars we would see more of and of our own making and against our own interests.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. Charlie Wood

    Wow! Those 2 dudes and the rest of the brave that saved Europe and the world should have never been asked to use their own money to buy a beer for the rest of their lives. Thank you doesn't get it but it's all I can think of.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  7. son of a ww2 vet

    our local stinking newspaper [columbus ga ledger inquirer] DID NOT mention a word of today being 6 june...d-day anniversary..

    June 6, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • son of a ww2 vet

      sorry for any typos....

      June 6, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Colin Morgan

    As a Brit I offer my thanks not only to my own countrymen (My grandfathers both served, as did many other relatives) but all those who served from all countries. I don't care what they say about you Yanks, you're all right by me.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Marky Merlot

      As a fellow Brit/Canadian I'd agree that that WWII (and particularly D-Day),was a coming of age, for the American Military. They were also humble, without the arrogance, often seen in the modern day armed forces. They had the toughest beach (Omaha) and suffered to most catastrophic losses and yet, they still prevailed. The quality of Airborne troops (immortalized in "Band of Brothers"), was unsurpassed by any regular regiment of any allied force. The British SAS & SBS were more highly trained, but very small by comparison. THe quality of US officers (most), also were superior than many of those of the Regular British Army, where entrance to the Acadamy (Sandhurst) was still largely the domain of the priviliged/wealthy classes.
      I have the Blu-Ray box of "Band of Brothers" and although dramatized, it still awe-inspires me. Captain WInters, "Wild" Bill Guarnere, Carwood Lipton, and everone that served: they were true heros,
      I think I'll watch it again, starting this weekend (10 disks)!

      June 6, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • bigdumbdinosaur

      I don't care what they say about you Yanks, you're all right by me.

      You Brits certainly did your part, especially during 1940 when the Nazi bombers kept coming and the exhausted men flying the Spitfires and Hurricanes kept shooting them down (not to mention the fellows who repeatedly patched up the planes so they could take out more Nazis). Churchill got it right when he asserted "...we shall never surrender...".

      June 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • jC in Western U.S.

      Thank you. We feel the same about you, believe me.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. S.R.

    Thanks to all the veterans who fought in every war. I am not a veteran but I put my name in the draft and would have went if called. I have been able to live free because of your sacrifice!

    June 6, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. paradiselost79

    we all MUST remember this day, a day that absolutely changed the outcome of the war. I cannot imagine what would have happened if it had failed. I really think the paratroopers did an amazing job. So many were dropped in the wrong spots, and they were defenseless targets as they fell. But they did their job no matter where they landed.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    Bless every veteran, past and present, for serving.
    We must never forget the past.

    June 6, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. David B

    I think D-Day is the greatest moment in American History. There is no doubt the Allies were the good guys.

    June 6, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • SH

      Agreed, David. Nothing since has been so clearly defined. I remain in awe of what that generation did...

      June 6, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. saywhat

    @ Pedo Bear
    Thanks I stand corrected. A typo. Read that as W W 2.

    June 6, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mickey M

    I was 5 yrs. old and remember great excitement. It was not until much later that I realized the true horror & valor of that day.The opening scenes from "Saving Private Ryan" are a gut-wrenching testimony to our men 68 yrs. ago. I love the interview with the two veterans, Esp. One saying the men & women of today are just as brave, although in a very different type of conflict.Perhaps if we respected our past much more we Americans would be less divisive today.

    June 6, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. JeanneLH

    I have been fortunate to visit this beach in Normandy. You cannot talk when you visit this beautiful cemetary, because the lump in your throat is too big. When you go over to the cliff and see the calm beach and that high, high cliff which my dad told me was a virtual suicide mission for the first wave. I wish my dad could have seen this beautiful place, but after the war...he never wanted to leave the beautiful United States of America again. I had forgotten today was DDay...thank you CNN for reminding me....God bless the USA.

    June 6, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
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