Why Do We Remember D-Day?

Normandy Invasion
Troops from Britain, Canada, and the United States land at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.

On June 6, we remember D-Day, or the Invasion of Normandy, France during World War II. Why was this such an important battle in World War II?

German forces had invaded France and were trying to take over all of Europe. The Allied forces of Canada, the United States, France, and Great Britain wanted to send those forces back to Germany. Allied forces gathered troops and equipment in Great Britain for a major military operation. They bombed German targets like railroads and bridges to slow down the German army. The German army knew that the Allies were planning an invasion. But the Allied forces made it look like they were attacking at a different beach north of Normandy.

Planning the attack was tricky for many reasons. The troops needed the light of a full moon to see to attack, so there were only a few days a month when the Allies could strike. The Allies also needed to plan the attack during high tide. That way, the water would be high enough for ships to avoid obstacles that the Germans had placed in the water.

In the first wave of attack, paratroopers dropped from planes. They landed behind the German forces so that they could help clear the way for troops to take once they landed. Then 6,000 ships bringing troops, weapons, tanks, and other equipment approached the beach from the water. Even though the Allies surprised the Germans, the fighting was fierce. Many allied soldiers lost their lives before they were able to take the beach from the German forces.

Allied Forces then pushed their way inland. By June 17th, over half a million Allied troops had arrived. They began to push the Germans out of France, which was a major turning point in the War.

What Do You Think? Why do you think that we remember D-Day? What was important about this attack? How would you describe the soldiers who took part in the operation?

Photo Credit: National Archives and Records Administration