June 6th, 2019

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75 years after D-Day

Nearly 2 1/2 years after Carole Lombard's war bond rally in Indianapolis began in triumph and ended in tragedy, an event occurred she would have been thrilled to see, though a price was paid in thousands of lives.

It was 75 years ago today -- June 6, 1944 -- the tide of World War II swung in the Allies' favor:

That's how the Los Angeles Times covered D-Day, the invasion of the European continent, occupied by Nazi Germany since 1940. Troops from the U.S., Great Britain, France and other nations stormed the beach at Normandy. Americans, Britons and others had awaited when the liberation of France, Belgium and other countries would occur -- and now, it had...the largest seaborne invasion in history.

More than 160,000 Allied troops, aided by 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft, crossed the English Channel and landed on a 50-mile stretch of land.

Of those 160,000, at least 10,000 are said to have died during battle; German casualties were estimated at between 4,000 and 9,000.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's message to American forces was this:

"You are about to embark on the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. ... I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle."

It's hard for many of us to comprehend the world of 1944; technology and society has drastically changed. D-Day arguably was one of the first global events to show the immediacy of radio broadcasting. At https://www.wwiifoundation.org/students/real-time-radio-broadcasts-from-d-day-june-6-1944/, one can listen to broadcasts of the invasion from CBS, NBC and the BBC.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, fewer than half a million survive today, and nearly all who took part in D-Day now are in their nineties. But quite a few of them are on hand today to commemorate the anniversary and remember colleagues who didn't survive. One of them, 97-year-old Tom Rice, parachuted into Normandy, just as he did 75 years ago:

For additional historical perspective on this crucial anniversary, visit https://www.dday.org/ (the National D-Day Museum in Bedford, Va.) and https://www.wwiifoundation.org/about-us/.

Here are a few minutes of NBC radio coverage from the beginning of the invasion:
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