Countless volumes have been written about World War II, from the events on the battlefield to the events that finally ended the fighting, from how women’s roles expanded on the home front to the way the world was reshaped in the aftermath of the war.
With the 70th anniversary of D-Day — the Invasion of Normandy — even more is likely to be written and researched as we struggle to come to terms with the way the war changed so many countries, while remembering veterans and the sacrifices they made. The D-Day anniversary offers a time to reflect on the sacrifices those men made and how they helped shape all of our futures.
Facts about D-Day
In case you don’t want to do the math, D-Day happened on June 6, 1944. The Allied war effort amassed about 150,000 troops and had them land on the French beaches in what is also known as the Invasion of Normandy. The Constitution Daily blog staff wrote “Ten fascinating facts on the 70th anniversary of D-Day” on June 6, 2014, with some interesting details about the famous World War II battle, including:
- Casualties were high. “Of the 100,000 or so fighters in the invading force, about 9,000 were killed or wounded on June 6, 1944,” the article stated.
- D-Day was one of the largest marine invasions ever.
- The invasion was reported to the public through live broadcasts on the radio and more than 700,000 words via wire report.
- The invasion was originally scheduled for June 5, but was delayed by General Dwight Eisenhower due to bad weather. “After meteorologists told Eisenhower that the weather would clear the next day, the invasion was on. In reality, the weather was nearly as bad on June 6.”
Remembering veterans of the Invasion of Normandy
The survivors of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy that are still alive today will be remembering veterans they served with who did not make it. In “Haunted by the Horrors of D-Day” on June 2, 2014, for the Daily Mail (London), Robert Hardman wrote of those who served in Great Britain’s Parachute Regiment’s 9th Battalion, which lost about 600 of the 750 men in their troop when their landing plan went awry.
Many of the veterans who are still living and able to, return every year to Normandy to remember D-Day, but as Hardman wrote, this year will be different because, “they will be accompanied by royalty, heads of state, tens of thousands of well-wishers and battalions of international media for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.”
World leaders on the 70th anniversary of D-Day
President Obama traveled to France on June 6, where he spoke at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. “The visit and reflections on the battles have become something of a rite of passage for American presidents as D-day has grown as a public symbol of the contributions of the ‘Greatest Generation,’” Kathleen Hennessey wrote in “Obama salutes D-day veterans at Normandy ceremony” on June 6, 2014, for the Los Angeles Times.
In addition to President Obama, other world leaders were on hand for the event and a private luncheon afterward, including his European counterparts, Queen Elizabeth II, French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin. On a side note, the meeting between President Obama and President Putin was the first face-to-face the two leaders have had since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, a reminder to many of how easily tensions in the world can escalate.
How should we be remembering the veterans of D-Day and World War II, and would society tolerate an invasion on par with D-Day today? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.