D-Day's 24 hours changed 20th century, and Europe, forever

U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (left) gives the order to paratroopers in England prior to boarding their planes to participate in the first assault of the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. A dwindling number of D-Day veterans will be on hand in Normandy on Thursday when international leaders gather to honor them on the invasion’s 75th anniversary. U.S. Army Signal Corps via AP

“OK,” Gen. Dwight Eisenhower said shortly after 3:30 a.m. June 5, 1944, inside Southwick House along the southern England coast. “Let’s go.”

And, with those words, the most intricately planned amphibious invasion in history — the beginning of the western world’s “great crusade” against fascism — was on.

Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when troops from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and the Allied nations hit the beaches of Normandy and started the deadly work of reclaiming Europe for the free world.

It was an amazing accomplishment of the power, will and ingenuity of the Allies under American leadership.

Some 150,000 men, 12,000 airplanes and 7,000 sea-going vessels went to battle that day. Some 4,414 died, including 2,499 Americans.

The weather was rough, the troops were largely untested and the resistance was deadly, but Allied perseverance, dedication and courage carried the day.

On the other side of the continent, Soviet troops had already turned the tide of Nazism at Stalingrad and were on the verge of a breakout that would take them into Poland and Germany.

Hitler’s days were numbered, thank God.

D-Day’s 75th anniversary will be celebrated in Normandy, America and around the world. There will be concerts, fly-overs, re-enactments, prayers, parades, lessons, fireworks, guided walks, races and bicycle races.

President Trump will lead the official U.S. remembrance at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, final resting place for more than 9,380 military dead, most killed in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations.

The valor of those heroes started our long, bloody march to victory. On this 75th anniversary of D-Day — June 6, 1944 — we honor their sacrifice and remember that the world’s freedom was protected at a terrible price.


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