D-Day, 70-Years Later

Invasion of Normandy
Friday, June 6, marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day; the day 150,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Nazi-occupied Normandy, France, and turned the tides of World War II irreversibly.

Men who poured onto those shores seven-decades ago joined world leaders on Friday to stand in tribute to the many brave young men who died that day, as well as those who risked it all in the name of liberty and survived.

At sunrise Friday, flags flew at half-staff on Normandy’s Omaha Beach, while a U.S. military band played Taps. D-Day veterans from the 29th Infantry Division, accompanied by serving soldiers, stood at attention at exactly 6:30am; the time on June 6, 1944, when Allied troops first arrived.

As has been reported by CNN here; on Thursday, one 93 year-old former paratrooper, Jim “Pee Wee” Martin (PeekYou profile here), recreated the jump he made onto Normandy’s Utah Beach on June 5, 1944. This time, however, under vastly more hospitable conditions.

“It didn’t (compare),” Martin said, “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”

Martin took the jump in tribute to the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, with whom he parachuted down a day in advance of the D-Day invasion.

In describing the climate that day, Jim — who at 23, was one of the oldest of his group — said, “Everybody (was) scared all the time, and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap.” He added, “But you just do what you had to do regardless of it.”

PeekYou thanks all the men and women, soldiers and civilians, who faced inconceivable¬†peril and made unthinkable sacrifices that day — and during all of World War II — so that we might enjoy the considerable freedoms we do today.

Huff Post has an incredible gallery which shows D-Day landing sights then and now, here.

Below are the words President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to mark the launch of Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944.