Matt Hooks is a retired member of the U.S. Army.
I was not around on Tuesday, June 6, 1944 and today there are few remaining who were. It is a day that rests in American history alongside Dec. 7, 1941, Nov. 22, 1963 and Sept. 11, 2001. Normandy, which served as a turning point in World War II, is forever etched in history by one name – D-Day.
The attack had been planned for more than a year. A great deal of equipment and weapons had been transported across the Atlantic Ocean in advance. The invasion was the culmination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Grand Strategy, especially in his decision to pursue Germany first.
It was launched as “Operation Overlord” and, on that day, nearly 160,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a heavily fortified French coast: Gold, Juno, Sword, Omaha and Utah. It was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and remains a day some historians consider the single most important day of the twentieth century.
President Roosevelt detailed the purpose for the allies that participated in the events on that fateful day by saying, “They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.”
In less than a week the vision of that liberation had spread. The beaches were fully secured and over 326,000 troops had landed on Normandy. The operation had established a solid second front in Europe. It’s success left Adolf Hitler’s armies trapped in a vice, fighting the Red Army in the East, and Allied Forces in the West.
In the following weeks, Allies fought their way across the land in the face of determined German resistance. By the end of June, the Allies had seized the vital port of Cherbourg and were poised to continue their march across France.
The events on that day were costly but successful, hundreds upon thousands of soldiers sacrificed everything so that our country, and other nations could preserve their way of life. Now 75 years later the importance of the events on D-Day live just as strong and deep as they did then.
For future generations who read about D-Day in history books or see reproductions in film (i.e. Saving Private Ryan) know that people can come together for the common good to fight against tyranny, oppression and persecution.
As I said in the beginning, I was not around on that date, but it is a moment that echoes in time and will never be forgotten.