Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Longest Day: D-Day Plus 66 Years

Operation Overlord commenced on June 6, 1944 as Allied forces came ashore in Normandy, France, against Hitler’s Fortress Europe. In 2010 debate still exists over the invasion’s casualty figures with no official number or list available. One estimate is that more than 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded, or went missing during the battle including more than 209,000 Allied casualties. Roughly 200,000 German troops killed or wounded, the Allies also captured 200,000 soldiers. French civilian casualties during the Battle of Normandy are estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000.

Today the site of one of the fiercest fights of the invasion, Pointe Du Hoc is under attack of a different kind. The bluff itself is suffering from natural erosion and the stress of up to 500,000 visitors a year. Preservation efforts are currently underway to shore up the bluff and save it for generations.

Pointe Du Hoc is a cliff rising west of Normandy’s Omaha beach. American Ranger soldiers under tremendous enemy fire landed on the beach, scaled the cliffs and eventually took out the Nazi howitzers aimed at the landing area.

The price the Rangers paid was steep - the contribution they made to take down tyranny was great. President Ronald Reagan knew how to say it best. Read his 1984 speech on the 40th anniversary ceremony here or watch a composite video here. Know that.

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