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. Johnny Orlando

    It took some big balls to get out of that ship and run up on shore. Its not like that had a choice though. Its either keep going or get killed.

    June 6, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jj

      today is the day a bunch of white boys kicked butt to save the The people of israel from annihilation. Too bad people to this day still deny that the holocaust even happened. I visited the holocaust memorial in Israel way back when. Truelly a very humbling experience...

      June 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lucien Alexandre Marion

    On that Memorial Day those heroic soldiers opened a breach to take back our Freedom that had been lost in that part of the World (France). We will never ever forget the Ultimate Sacrifice some paid and others who were wounded and suffered for Liberty. A very Special Salute to all of them in Their Memory and to those still living and to all of the ones of today, retired or still serving or fighting for those sacred values for all of us and for our children to be FREE. "Nous nous souviendrons-We will remember".
    From Canada Merci-Thank You.

    June 6, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nick

    I'm glad that at least one news outlet has taken the time to remember D-Day. So many people don't even bother to take a moment ot remember the sacrifices of our relatives in WWII. Sadly in another 10 or 15 years there will be noone from that time left to recall the events, and there's already a generation of young people who have probably never been taught the history of D-day and its siginifcance to the world.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. betty

    Canada lost close to 18,000 soldiers during that time. Not sure where this writer got his/her information.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • MB

      Betty: Not on D-Day. The numbers of those KIA during D-Day are very accurate.

      June 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bigdumbdinosaur

    They weren't called the Greatest Generation for no reason. Here we see pictures of young (and some not-so-young) men, probably more than a little apprehensive about what was about to transpire, nevertheless answering the call of duty and striking a major blow in the name of freedom. They were scared and brave and got the job done.

    It concerns me that many of the current crop of young people are relatively ignorant of what happened in the 1940s and earlier...the events that led to the greatest armed conflagration in recorded history. Some of it I blame on the pollyanna thinking that has seemed to taken over in our schools. Evidently, teaching relevant history is no longer fashionable amongst the liberal mindset that runs our public education system. Perhaps if less emphasis were placed on "multiculturalism" and obsessing about "gay rights" and such, and more focus was placed on the basics, our children might grow up to appreciate the phrase "freedom comes with a high price." Many of those who waded ashore at Normandy paid that price with their blood. God bless all of them!

    June 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      I have a BS in History and I am also a liberal. I happen to find most liberals have a better grasp of history and its implications then do conservatives.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MB

    Thank you to CNN for posting this remembrance of D-Day. My dad landed at Omaha Beach near the E-1 draw (WN 65 bunker) and his unit took the bunker that morning. The 467th AA/BW was a group of heroes among heroes. Let us never forget the sacrifices all of them made on June 6, 1944 and throughout the war.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kieker

      And my dad too came ashore on Omaha...with the 18th RCT of the 1st ID. I stood on that beach 60 years to the hour he came ashore. There are no words...just a lot of tears.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John G

    I tip my hats to the brave men and women that serve this great country. I am honored at the sacrifices that all of my fellow veterans have made over the years for freedom. Thank you, thank you and welcome home!

    June 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cheryl Jefferies

    To those who died, thank you. To those who were there and lived, thank you. We owe you more than we can ever re-pay. Thank you.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mikewl

    My Dad also went ashore on Omaha. 1st D. 16th Inf. Headquarters Co. Wounded twice, the first story he told me about was not of the horror of battle, but of the men he served with and their bravery. His favorite part of the story was of him being loaded back on a hospital ship, and waiting for an officer of respectable rank to offer him a cigarette. He waited for a Major, and said the man was proud to help. God bless all the men and women who served, and serve today.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rie

      Frank Leimbach Jr, our dad. God rest his soul.
      A HERO to many.
      A servant to ONE

      June 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NoBama

    I thought Obama's speech about D-Day today was excellent. What? He didn't make one? Just like the past two years? Really? You mean he doesn't care that so many died for our freedoms? Oh, that's right. It's Bush's fault.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jC in Western U.S.

      We are here to honor and thank the people who landed on the beaches at Normandy and those who followed behind them. It is not appropriate to interject American partisan politics into an event that touched and changed the lives of so many people of so many nations. It shows great disrespect.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BillyBob117

    One of the greatest events in history (to defeat evil) and D-Day is once again being ignored by the royals who occupy our WH.

    For God, Country and the Veterans

    June 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. william1956

    During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts (Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War) and in Morocco and Algeria (Operation Torch) and Tunisia (Tunisia Campaign).

    June 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gayle

    My father was one of the brave navy men on an LST that fateful D-Day of June 6, 1944. He shared many stories of the Normandy Invasion with us, and I am forever proud of him and all who served with him. We lost my father to cancer five years ago, but we will always remember he was part of the Greatest Generation.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tim Bates

    Let's give it up for the 6 Navy doctors and 144 Navy corpsmen who went ashore at Omaha Beach to render medical care and evacuate the wounded. Many of the 5TH Navy Beach Battalion lost their lives that day.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mikewl

      and it was one of those who helped evac my dad. god bless em all. thank you.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Liz Siler

    Thank you for posting this. I remember Dday every year (even though I was born 14 years after it happened) and always post it on my Facebook. I am definitely a pacifist, but I think in a review of 20th century/21st century history it will go down as one of the very few times when flexing our muscle was not only called for - but was seriously the right thing and only thing to do. I am grateful for and pray for all the people who fought at DDay and its aftermath to liberate Europe.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
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