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Remembering D-Day and “those who sacrificed to liberate a continent”

Posted by Dr. Fay on June 6, 2012

Governor Palin honored in her tweet today “those who sacrificed to liberate a continent. “

As this introduction from the History.com article about D-Day indicates, the invasion of Normandy on what has come to be known as D-Day, was indeed the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.

Army.Mil has a slideshow of actual photos from the battle front as well as a lot of other information about D-Day, including this transcript from General Eisenhower’s speech prior to the invasion:

General Dwight D. Eisenhower in his dress uniform

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

– Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

On the 40th anniversary of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy, Ronald Reagan gave a memorable speech,  as described by the The History Place in its Great Speeches Collection:

Standing on the very spot on the northern coast of France where Allied soldiers had stormed ashore to liberate Europe from the yoke of Nazi tyranny, President Ronald Reagan spoke these words to an audience of D-Day veterans and world leaders. They were gathered at the site of the U.S. Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc. Following this speech, the President unveiled memorial plaques to the 2nd and 5th U.S. Army Ranger Battalions. The President and Mrs. Reagan then greeted each of the veterans. Other Allied countries represented at the ceremony by their heads of state and government were: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, King Olav V of Norway, King Baudouin I of Belgium, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau of Canada.

Video retrieved from 

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