The Turning Point of WWII: D-Day Commemorations
D-day was the turning point for the Allied forces during World War II. It was essential for the Allies, lead by the American forces, to get a strategic foothold on Europe's mainland. The strategic planning for the invasion of Europe was utterly brilliant, but the execution of those plans, in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, went terribly wrong. D-day, given that moniker for no reason other than it would be THE DAY of the Allied invasion, has gone down in history as one of the most courageous, and bloodiest ventures ever undertaken by American soldiers. Between 3 and 4 thousand young American men lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy, France that day. But many of their fortunate comrades who survived the treacherous waters and German attacks of Omaha and Utah beaches are still around, and have the most remarkable stories to tell. Their time, however, is passing quickly by.
The United State Department of Defense estimates that upwards of 800 to 1000 World War II veterans die each day. There has been an effort in recent years to chronicle the oral histories of those eye-witness veterans who are willing to recount the harrowing events of that day. The Normandy Veteran's Association gives recognition to men women, Allies and Americans who fought during the Allied invasion. It provides opportunities for veterans to connect and reunite as they recall the crucial battles of 67 years ago.
The National D-Day Memorial was completed in 2001 and is located in Bedford, Virginia. Some 15 thousand people were present at its dedication and it continues to draw large crowds each year to commemorate D-Day.
Each year there are memorials held at Normandy, some on the beaches and some at the cemeteries where thousands of American and Allied soldiers are buried. One website, a collaboration of "Normandy and Beyond," and "NormandieMemoir," provides information about some of the International observances of D-Day. The services held at Normandy remember not just the Allied troops who lost their lives, but also the French civilians who died while aiding the invasion forces.Continued on the next page