By Anna Coates
The D-Day military invasion that helped end World War II was one the most ambitious and consequential military campaigns in human history. In its strategy and scope—and its enormous stakes for the future of the free world—historians regard it among the greatest military achievements ever.
The United States came late to the war effort, American leaders having embraced neutrality even as Germany grew bolder in attacking shipping lanes. That changed overnight on December 7, 1941 – “the day that will live in infamy” – as Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
The U.S. not only equipped its own forces but produced a quarter of all weapons used by the British Empire, as well as 427,000 trucks and 13,000 combat vehicles for the Soviet Union. American output amounted to two-thirds of allied military production, exceeding all that of all the Axis powers combined.
The D-Day operation employed 185,000 troops; 18,000 paratroopers; 13,174 aircraft; 3,500 landing craft; 745 large ships; 347 minesweepers; 700 transport planes; and 123 warships. All this production started at ground zero, as the entire population geared up to produce materials for war.
Sadly today, these are just numbers to most Americans. During that time, every home and family was affected. Since the 76th anniversary of D-Day is this Saturday, June 6, it seems fitting to reflect on what was at stake and how our lives might be so different if this monumental undertaking had failed. Today’s American history classes often relegate it to a couple of pages and if not reached before the end of the term, totally ignored; what a disservice to the sacrifices of so many. A very brief recap follows.
Read more in the June 3, 2020 E-edition