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AARP Looks Back at D-Day on the 75th Anniversary Skip to content

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Robert Capa / Magnum / AARP

The Normandy Invasion Changed the World in Ways That Still Matter

June 6 marks the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, when Allied forces began the liberation of Western Europe. It was arguably the most critical single day in America’s effort to help rid the world of Nazi tyranny. D-Day is remembered, too, as a pivotal moment in establishing America’s role as a world leader after World War II. But the personal connections to the day live on as well. Here are some recollections from people who played a part in making history that day, and facts about a moment in time we should never forget, along with some poignant letters home read by actor Bryan Cranston.

     

The First Wave

Pfc. Dominick "Dom" Bart recounts the horrific experience of war during the Omaha Beach invasion

     

A Sky Full of Fire

Pfc. Jim “Pee Wee” Martin writes of his first taste of battle as a paratrooper in the D-Day invasion

     

A Total Victory

Ensign Jay Kay describes his experience piloting a landing craft filled with U.S. troops

     

Retired Major General John C Raaen Junior

Recalling D-Day Carnage

A fateful decision by his commander saved this Army Ranger captain's unit

     

United States Rangers waiting on a boat prior to the D Day invasion

Letters From D-Day

American soldiers recall the battle in notes to their families, friends

     

Images of Bedford and Raymond Hoback

Small Virginia Town Remembers Its Sacrifice

One sister recalls the price her family and Bedford, Va., paid on June 6, 1944

     

American troops being ferried to larger ships in preparation for the allied invasion of Normandy.

The Story Behind D-Day's Iconic Images

Robert Capa took the most famous photos, but is the story behind those pictures a myth?

     

U S troops wading from landing craft towards Omaha Beach

Quiz: Test Your D-Day Knowledge

How much do you know about this iconic moment in world history?

     

D-Day by the Numbers

illustration of a formation  of soldiers

The troops: 156,000 Allied soldiers, mostly from the United States, Great Britain and Canada

illustration of a WWII-era warship

The ships: Over 5,000 floating vessels, including six battleships took part in the assault

illustration of a folded US flag

Allied casualties: At least 2,501 Americans and 1,913 British, Canadian and other Allied troops were killed

illustration of a WWII-era military tank

The vehicles: 50,000 vehicles, from tanks to jeeps were transported to the beaches

illustration of a military intelligence map

The span: Nearly 50 miles, stretching west to east from Utah Beach to Sword Beach

illustration of  a WWII-era military plane

The planes: About 11,000 American and British planes, flying 14,674 missions on D-Day alone

What They Said About D-Day

Erwin Rommel


"The first twenty-four hours of the invasion will be decisive.… For the Allies as well as Germany, it will be the longest day.”

— German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

Alfred Jodl, German high command


"We shall see who fights better and who dies more easily: the German soldier faced with the destruction of his homeland or the Americans and British, who don't even know what they are fighting for in Europe.”

— General Alfred Jodl, German high command

George A. Taylor

“There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: Those who are dead and those who are going to die.”

— Col. George A. Taylor, commanding the 16th Infantry Regiment

General Dwight Eisenhower


"The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.”

— A letter Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote to be issued if the invasion failed. It was retrieved from his trash can by an aide.