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.

Post by: ,
Filed under: France • History • Military • U.S. • Veterans
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. jC in Western U.S.

    Today I am remembering my father James B Hepworth who entered France 68 years ago + 2 weeks and went on to help liberate a concentration camp. Today I am remembering an uncle Joseph B Hepworth, who I never knew, who died at the age of 23 when his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean 10/4/1943.

    Thank you to all veterans for your willingness to put your life on the line for the lives of people you will never know and who will never know you. We DO know what you did for your country and for us.

    June 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      So well spoken. Thank you for offering a tribute to your family members–as well as all of the others who are such an important part of our existence.

      June 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Golec

      My father, John Golec, was part of the American forces, CIC, and helped libererat Dachau Concnetration Camp and worked on a special reoprot for the Allied Command. He was reserved and did not like to talk about his experiences. He passed away before we really got a chance to reflect on how he viewed WWII from a distance. I'm always impressed with the perspective of WWII veterians. We owe them.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mister Jones

      Thank you for this post JC. I am grateful to your father and uncle for the way that they helped pave, in the name of freedom. Hooyah James Hepworth! Hooyah Joseph Hepworth!!

      June 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. americansarelost

    one of the propaganda lies.99% of german soldiers were on the eastern front.america had 9.000 casualties in "invasion" of the whole continent,11 times less than in real invasion of the island of okinava.real invasion of normandy in 1941 would have cost america millions of lives of soldiers.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Raven

    Thank you to all of the veterans for keeping our country free.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GK

    This Greatest of Generations is now in decline. Once they're gone, we need to remember all they sacraficed.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NeoSONIK

    I am glad usa was brave enough to join at the end of the war. Did america wait to decide which side to join based on which side was going to win?

    June 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • paullyvenne

      You mean like Stalin and the USSR. No, we were helping the Allies the whole time.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mister Jones

      @Neo – No. Getting attacked on Dec. 7, 1941 helped us make that decision, and it was pretty clear which "side" we were going to be on at that point.

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

    I have been to Caen France and walked the beaches at Normandy. Very sobering. If you go, you definitely must visit the Peace Museum Caen Normandy. It will defintely make an impression.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alan

    This is to NeoSONIK
    You are an Idiot and know nothing of history, so you are the fool that will repeat it.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • NeoSONIK

      So I'm an idiot, I know nothing of history and I will repeat it, right? No, I will do no such thing!

      June 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Linda

    My father, stationed at Debach Air Base near Ipswich and a member of Helton's Hellcats, flew his first mission on D-Day. He was so proud of his service as a pilot in the Army Air Corps–but sad that the bombing missions and the war were necessary. I am so greatful to him and all of the others who served.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Larry

    Thank you JC..Today at 71 years of age I recall also my uncle Joe who served as a Marine in War Two, fought four major Pacific campaigns, survived those and reenlisted during the Korean War and survived ....sadly he suffered a mental breakdown and spent many, many years in Veteran hospitals. Survived that and lived to be 92 yrs old and passed away peacefully on Oct.2010. I thank them all as I do todays generation who volunteer to serve so I can enjoy the Freedom they all provide for all of us in the U.S.A.

    June 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CB

    momentous, for sure. but the turning point of WWII? i think a million dead soviets in stalingrad, not to mention the obliterated 6th army, would take issue with that.

    June 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Theend

      Francois Hollande visited the cemetery at Ranville today and paid tribute the British 6th Airborne Division from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire who died on D-Day trying to capture the bridges across the River Orne and Caen Canal - the first French President to do so in 67 years. Maybe next year Hollande and the other Allied leaders could pay their respects in Volgograd... It is long overdue.

      June 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Theend

    My late father, a Navy frogman and radioman, was on the beach with the Marines at Utah in Normandy on June 6, 1944. My children and I walked the beach 58 years later and collected a handful of sand to take back to my mother. "... From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered..."

    June 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Phelan

    To my Uncle who lies in a cemetary in France, I was born fifeteen years after your death but I think of you often and am forever grateful to you.

    June 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jm

    My dad, 19 years old at the time, was in the first wave at Omaha. So many died on the beaches that day. I thank God on this day especially that my dad was one of the lucky ones who survived.

    June 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NooYawkah

    Someone should send a link to this page to our President. He seems to have forgotten what today is.

    June 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lamch

    My Mother the baby of 14 had 4 brother serve in the Navy during WWII. The Oldest, My uncle Andy died on this day piloting an LST on it's way to the beach. My Mother never got to know him. A good friend of mine, Kenny survived his landing on the beach, when people asked him about his service he would only say "I gotta free trip to France on Uncle Sams dime." I'm the only person he ever opened up to about his service. He always called me "sarg" cuz i spent 25 yrs in the Army before retiring a few years ago. I thank all those who have gone before me and after me in service to this great country.

    June 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4