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D-Day: Remembering a Day on Omaha and Utah Beaches, Normandy, France

Updated on September 19, 2015
Omaha Beach landscape nowadays
Omaha Beach landscape nowadays | Source

"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you."

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force

June 6, 1944

June 6, 1944

After months of planning and preparing, a massive deception operation, and a one day weather delay Allied Forces embarked on Operation Overlord to penetrate Hilter's "Atlantic Wall" and free Western Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany. The success of the mission depended on intricate coordination, a spring tide, calm seas, and a full moon.

With air and naval support and an earlier airborne assault, an amphibious invasion was focused on 5 beaches, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword, along 50 miles of the Normandy coastline. Beginning at 6:30AM on the morning of June 6, 1944, approximately 156,000 troops from Britain, Canada, and the United States hit the beach in the largest amphibious invasion in world history. Over 4,000 Allied forces perished that day with thousands more wounded or missing.

By August 1944 the Allies had liberated Paris and the Battle of Normandy was essentially over. With Allied troops continuing to push east and Soviet troops pushing west, Nazi Germany eventually surrendered on May 8, 1945.

The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia - the town that suffered the highest per capita D-Day losses in the nation.

D-Day, June 6, 1944, Normandy, France

"Aerial view of Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, taken 6 June 1944, showing landing of two infantry regiments 18th and 115th, vehicles, and landing craft."
"Aerial view of Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, taken 6 June 1944, showing landing of two infantry regiments 18th and 115th, vehicles, and landing craft." | Source
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day", 6 June 1944. Note helmet netting; faint "No Smoking" sign on the LCVP's ramp; and M1903 rifles and M1 carbines carried by some of these men.
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day", 6 June 1944. Note helmet netting; faint "No Smoking" sign on the LCVP's ramp; and M1903 rifles and M1 carbines carried by some of these men. | Source
A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the U.S. Army's First Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach.
A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the U.S. Army's First Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach. | Source
Scene on Omaha Beach during the afternoon of 6 June 1944
Scene on Omaha Beach during the afternoon of 6 June 1944 | Source
Forward bunker Longues sur mer battery, between Omaha and Gold beach, Normandy,
Forward bunker Longues sur mer battery, between Omaha and Gold beach, Normandy, | Source
American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming Omaha Beach, wait by the Chalk Cliffs for evacuation to a field hospital for further medical treatment. Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, 06/06/1944.
American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming Omaha Beach, wait by the Chalk Cliffs for evacuation to a field hospital for further medical treatment. Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, 06/06/1944. | Source
Crossed rifles in the sand are a comrade's tribute to this American soldier who sprang ashore from a landing barge and died at the barricades of Western Europe. 1944
Crossed rifles in the sand are a comrade's tribute to this American soldier who sprang ashore from a landing barge and died at the barricades of Western Europe. 1944 | Source
NORMANDY, ONE YEAR AFTER D DAY, JUNE 1945 American cemetery on the cliffside above Omaha beach, where 5000 American soldiers are buried.
NORMANDY, ONE YEAR AFTER D DAY, JUNE 1945 American cemetery on the cliffside above Omaha beach, where 5000 American soldiers are buried. | Source
Field of poppies
Field of poppies | Source
Omaha Beach Cemetery, aka: World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, near Colleville-sur-mer in Normandy, France
Omaha Beach Cemetery, aka: World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, near Colleville-sur-mer in Normandy, France | Source

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

While written by a Canadian Army Officer and Surgeon in World War I, the poem seems appropriate then, now, and always.

A waving American flag atop the United States Capitol Building.
A waving American flag atop the United States Capitol Building. | Source

Memorial Day

Originally a day to commemorate fallen solders from the Civil War, the first such celebration was in Charleston, SC where a group of freedmen (freed slaves), ministers, and teachers gathered to honor dead Union solders that had been prisoners nearby.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor all of those men and women that have died in service to our country. Now observed on the last Monday in May, it is often the "official" start of summer.

With few remaining World War II veterans, it is appropriate that, on Memorial Day, we remember this infamous day at the beach.

We Honor and Remember

To all of the men and women that have given their 'last full measure of devotion' in service to their country, we honor you and remember.

To all of those Gold Star Families that have lost loved ones, while nothing can ease your pain, you continue in our thoughts and prayers.

To all of those that have served or are currently serving our country, we thank you.

Our Son, Andy

Andy (left), commissioned as a Second Lt., USMC, May 20, 2012 by a retired US Navy Capt. and family friend
Andy (left), commissioned as a Second Lt., USMC, May 20, 2012 by a retired US Navy Capt. and family friend | Source

The Future

The Travis Manion Foundation "leadership program challenges young men and women to develop their character by seeking "If Not Me Then Who..." moments in their everyday life."

When asked why they serve, many of the young men and women in the military today feel this way. 'If not me, then who?' These young men and women of conviction and devotion to duty will continue to keep our military strong and our country free.

Who will serve in the future?

© 2012 bankscottage

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    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 4 years ago

      Bankscottage thank you for remembering those we lost, and those who fought and came home in this inspiring hub.

      You must be so proud of your two sons!

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      CyberShelley, thanks for your kind words. We often take for granted the sacrifices of those who serve. Memorial Day is the day we remember those that gave it all.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      My dad landed in Normandy on June 8, 1944. Congratulations to your son. We were a Navy family for a few years.

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Tirelesstraveler. thanks for stopping by and thanks to your father and your family for their service.

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 3 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Great reminder of this terrible but ultimately necessary day in American and world history.

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      It would be great to think there would never have to be another like it.

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 2 years ago from US of A

      I never tire of being reminded of the sacrifices others have made to make this country free. Thanks for sharing this with us and your close ties to those who have served and are currently serving. The one thing that has always baffled me in the D-day planning is that even though the operation was highly secret, somehow, the Nazis figured out where some of the landing forces would come in. This of course was indicative of the amount of obstacle placed on the beaches and the bunkers setup to repel the invasion force. Was there any books that ever covered this angle of operation secrecy and how some of this information may have been leaked to Germany intelligence, or was it just pure luck?

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