National Firearms Museum's WWII display.
On the morning of June 6, 1944, more than 170,000 Allied soldiers crossed the English Channel for a descent upon the sands of Normandy, France. With assaults set for beachheads designated as Gold, Sword, Omaha, Juno, Pointe du Hoc, and Utah, it was the courage, tenacity and ingenuity of the commanders and their men that allowed the Allies to secure a foothold in Europe.
As they rallied for departure, Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the crowd:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Three months later, 2,000,000+ men made the liberation of Paris possible and began the drive to Berlin. It has been well document that the Allies suffered a 10% casualty rate. For the Americans, that translated into approximately 20,000 killed, 94,000 wounded and 10,000 missing.
It is today that we remember those brave men and women, and the sacrifices they made, to preserve the liberty and freedom we enjoy to this day.