Tomorrow, June 6, marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day during World War II. Code-named Operation Overlord, D-Day was the battle that was the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany.
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the commander in charge of the operation. He and his team spent months planning for the epic battle. Of course they knew it was not going to be easy — the Germans had firm control over France, as well as much of Europe.
Did you know the operation was supposed to happen June 5? Apparently, due to inclement weather, Eisenhower decided to postpone the battle for one day in hopes of better weather. During the planning phase of the operation, the U.S. was able to implement a successful deception campaign about an upcoming invasion, fooling Germany into thinking the battle would take place in Norway.
Early that morning on June 6, 1944, about 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops landed on a 50-mile stretch of beaches in France. There were more than 5,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft to provide cover.
The aircraft were also instrumental in blowing up bridges and roads to make it more difficult for the Germans to reach them. Nonetheless, there were heavy casualties. Initially, more than 4,000 men were killed and thousands more were wounded or missing. The five beaches the troops stormed were Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
The Battle of Normandy lasted from June to August of 1944. By late August, Northern France was liberated from the evil clutches of Nazi Germany. By the following spring, the allies had defeated the Germans.
Have you ever seen the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” starring Tom Hanks? That was such a powerful movie and it began with an incredible and graphic scene depicting the storming of Omaha Beach in the Invasion of Normandy. The scene lasted 27 minutes and is as graphic as it is realistic, horrifying and life-like.
If you haven’t seen the movie, in a nutshell, the story is about Hanks as a U.S. Army Ranger captain and his squad as they search for a downed Paratrooper (Matt Damon) who is the last surviving brother of four servicemen. The entire movie is riveting and I highly recommend seeing it. This 1998 blockbuster movie, directed by Stephen Spielberg, grossed $216.8 million at the box office and a whopping $481.8 million worldwide. When the video came out in 1999, it took in another $44 million. The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Tom Hanks. The movie won five awards, including Best Actor for Hanks and Best Director for Spielberg.
World War II (1939-1945) was the biggest and deadliest world war ever. The war began when Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. The war lasted six years. There were dozens of countries involved and millions and millions of people, both soldiers and civilians lost their lives. More than 400,000 Americans died during the war. The age old saying, “War is hell,” certainly rings true when you study this and all wars. But we should study our past and never forget the horrors of war.
Please say a prayer for our military — pray for those who are no longer with us, like those who died during the Battle of Normandy, and for those who currently serve in our armed forces.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.