June 6 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of Normandy. On that day in 1944, the Allied forces invaded northern France by landing on the beaches of Normandy, in what became the largest seaborne invasion in history.
This invasion began the liberation of German-occupied France from Nazi control and laid the framework of the Allied victory over the Western Front (which encompassed Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany).
About the Invasion
Plans for the operation began a year earlier in 1943. Over time, the Allied forces conducted military deception under the codename Operation Bodyguard, where they mislead the German troops as to the date and location of the main Allied landings.
On June 5, the original date for D-Day, code name Operation Overlord, weather was less than ideal and the invasion was pushed back for 24 hours. Those involved theorized pushing the invasion back even further, but everything was so closely calculated with the phases of the moon, the tides and the time of day that any further delay would have caused a significant set-back.
So, the Allied troops proceeded, landing 24,00 US, British and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armored divisions began landing on the coast at 6:30.
The troops landed under heavy gunfire. The shore was mined and covered with obstacles, from wooden stakes and metal tripods to barbed wire. The Allied troops failed to achieve any of their goals on that first day. In fact, there was an estimated 10,000 casualties on that first day alone.
About the Memorial
The National D-Day Memorial was opened on June 6, 2001, in Bedford, Virginia. Thirty-four Virginia National Guard soldiers from the town of Bedford were part of the D-Day invasion, nineteen of whom were killed during the first day of the invasion. Four more died during the rest of the Normandy campaign. Proportionally, more men died per capita from Bedford than any other city in the United States, making Bedford an important location for the Memorial.
Constructed to honor those who died on June 6, 1944, the National D-Day Memorial features a forty-four foot tall arch, a reflecting pool and a captivating scene that symbolizes the fight that took place on the beaches of Normandy.
The Memorial receives 60,000 guests per year.
About The Final Salute
A Final Salute will take place from June 4 to June 9, 2019, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Veterans and the public will gather together at the National D-Day Memorial for a day of reflection and remembrance.
Admission is free all day on June 6.