Remembering D-Day

Published 8:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

Have you ever heard of “Day-Day”? 

No, not a new hip-hop artist or my granddaughter’s nickname for her great-grandfather Dave. 

Most people know it simply as “D-Day.” While many assume the D stands for designated, decision, death or dooms, according to the U.S. Army, it merely stands for “day.” The term is commonly used as the day of any important event, but is primarily used in American history to refer to the day the Allied Forces invaded Europe during World War II, June 6, 1944. 

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This week is the 80th anniversary of that day. A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself, including 2,501 American servicemen. More than 5,000 additional troops were wounded.

In the Battle of Normandy that followed, 73,000 Allied forces were killed and 153,000 wound-ed.

Nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy on that fateful day — 73,000 from the U.S. and 83,000 from Britain and Canada. Forces from several other countries were also involved. They faced approximately 50,000 German forces. 

The overall Operation Overlord involved more than 2 million Allied soldiers, sailors, pilots, medics and other servicemen and women from a dozen countries. 

Eighty years later, we still owe so much to the men and women of this “greatest generation,” who helped preserve freedoms we enjoy (and take for granted) today. About one-third of the adult male population of the United States served at some point during World War II. Few of these patriots remain alive. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, less than 1 percent of them are still living.

According to Charles Djou, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, approximately 150 American veterans are expected to travel to Normandy this week — including about 25 who actually fought on D-Day — for the 80th commemoration. The youngest of these men is 96 years old.

If you are a history buff like me, you may want to revisit an old favorite film, documentary, or book about the invasion of Omaha Beach in Normandy, or any other part of the Second World War. It’s one of the ways I choose to remember those who fought for their homes and families, and descendants (like us). 

If you’d like some suggestions, here are just a few: “The Longest Day” (1962); “Saving Private Ryan” (1998); “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”; “D-Day: The Total Story” (documentary); “D-Day Normandy 1944” (doc); the Max Hastings book, “Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy 1944”; and “Eisenhower’s Lieutenants,” by Russell F. Weigley. 

There are really too many to list. Pick something that seems interesting to you, and dig in.

Regardless of what you chose to do to remember D-Day, please do not forget the ones who gave their lives for your freedoms. Please do not forget the ones who lived to make it home, but have carried the weight of war ever since. 

If you can, thank one of these veterans. Thank any veteran. They all deserve to be thanked, appreciated, and respected for their service.

If that includes you, please accept my sincere thanks.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at