On this day 68 years ago, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy. "We will accept nothing less than full victory," General Dwight D. Eisenhower told his troops before the invasion launched. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported Operation Overlord and by day's end, the Allies had secured a foot-hold from which they'd launch the long march across Europe to defeat Hitler.
The cost of the successful maneuver was high -- more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in the battle, including at least 2,499 Americans.
(Images: U.S. Army)
In commemorating the 40th anniversary of the invasion, President Ronald Reagan paid tribute to all those we lost, including The Boys of Pointe de Hoc.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
God bless all of our active troops and retired veterans today and every day.