"These men waged war so that we might know peace," President Obama said June 6 in a tribute at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. "They sacrificed so that we might be free... We are grateful to them."
Almost 9,400 Americans are buried at the cemetery, and the names of 1,557 soldiers are inscribed on tablets in the cemetery’s Garden of the Missing. The remains of approximately 14,000 others originally buried in the Normandy region were returned home at the request of their next of kin, according to a White House fact sheet on the Normandy invasion.
More than 150,000 Allied troops landed by sea and air on Normandy's Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches code-named "Operation Neptune" that included "Operation Overlord".
It launched a 77-day battle, involving some three million military forces, that resulted in the surrender of some 100,000 German soldiers, and the deaths of about 25,000 U.S. men.
As President Obama told the ceremony, "We have to do our best to uphold in our own lives the values that they were prepared to die for. We have to honor those who carry forward that legacy, recognizing that people cannot live in freedom unless free people are prepared to die for it."
- A video interview of Capt. Charles Stein, who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. "The high bluffs, the constant gunfire, casualties everywhere you looked—the sights and sounds are unforgettable. It was the most horrible thing I ever experienced.
"As an Austrian Jewish refugee, I knew what I was fighting against. I had fled Nazi tyranny...and escaped to the United States. But I hadn't received any news in almost three years from my family I had left behind. So I was fighting my way back to them to find out what happened." He will be speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum June 20 and July 11.
- A slideshow honoring that historic day. The images are from the National Archives, commemorating D-Day's 70th anniversary at its Washington headquarters and nationwide; from the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, holding programs June 7 and 8; from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; and from Getty Images.
The world has a debt of gratitude. As President Obama said, "more than 150,000 souls set off towards this tiny sliver of sand upon which hung more than the fate of a war, but rather the course of human history."