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It Just Slipped By

June 13, 2017
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

A very important day slipped past many of us last week - not sure what you missed?

OK, what is significant about June 6?

Need more of a hint?

Try June 6, 1944.

Odds are not too many of us were around that specific day, but for those who were, it is a day that will not be forgotten - the D-Day invasion of Europe in World War II. Specifically, at 6:30 a.m., thousands of Allied troops began landing on the beaches of Normandy, on the French coast, in the battle to defeat Nazi Germany and liberate the people of Europe.

A total of five amphibious landings were conducted at once; American troops landed at beaches named Omaha and Utah, while British, Canadian and other Allies landed at beaches named Gold, Sword and Juno. The fiercest battles occurred at Omaha beach, where over 2,000 Americans lost their lives trying to help restore freedom to oppressed people. By the end of the day on June 6, 1944, about 156,000 Allied troops had made their way onto French soil from the five landing beaches.

However, it was not done without a tremendous cost of life - after years of detailed research, the National D-Day Memorial Foundation concluded that on D-Day, 2,499 Americans lost their lives during the landings, while a total of 1,914 British, Canadian and other Allied troops lost their lives as well, for a grand total of 4,413 troops killed on that momentous day in history.

Taking part in the D-Day landings were troops from the United States, Great Britian, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Free France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland. From the landings on the Normandy coast on June 6, the Allies were able to liberate northern France from Nazi German control for the first time since 1940.

The D-Day landings were the start of the end of the hostilities in Europe in World War II, which ended on May 8, 1945. The hostilities against the Japanese Empire would continue until August 14, 1945, when the Japanese surrendered, but the actual end of hostilities occurred on September 2, 1945, bringing to a close a painful chapter of American History.

In those years, there were countless D-Days, in all of the theaters of operations for Allied troops. There were landings in North Africa, Sicily, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and the Philippines, and in each instances, many lives were lost, in the name of freedom.

With Memorial Day still fresh in our minds, one has to wonder how the 73rd anniversary of D-Day slipped by so easily. Granted, the passage of time eliminates more and more of those who may have actually been there, fighting not only for the liberation of Europe, but also fighting for their very existence on that day.

We are constantly reminded that the freedoms that we enjoy today did not come without a tremendous cost. Those costs continue to accrue each day as our soldiers around the world continue to defend our freedoms from all threats to our way of life. We must never forget the sacrifices of those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.



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