June 6th, 1944: More than 150,000 Allied troops land on the beaches of Normandy, France, as part of the largest seaborne invasion in history. Known as "D-Day," the name and date loom large in the memory of World War II—perhaps second only to December 7th, 1941. These two dates stand on opposite ends of American involvement in the war, and their meaning could not be more different. D-Day put the Allies on a decisive path toward victory. Beginning with the Normandy beaches, they pushed back against Axis forces until Germany was forced to surrender less than a year later. Their achievements were not accomplished without tremendous sacrifice, however, as the Normandy invasion resulted in over 6,000 American casualties.
Below, we offer an array of collections representing the wide variety of individuals without whom D-Day would not have been a success: soldiers and sailors, doctors and nurses, engineers and pilots, enlisted men and officers, seasoned fighters and those who had never before been in combat. These veterans stormed the beaches, directed the landings, sailed or flew in support of the invasion, parachuted or piloted gliders into France on the night of June 5, and arrived in the days after June 6 (D-Day Plus 1, etc.) to continue the perilous work of pushing back and defeating the German Army.
In addition, we invite you to view “D-Day Journeys: Personal Geographies of D-Day,” a Story Map which chronicles the individual journeys of four D-Day veterans. The Story Map combines text, images and multimedia content—including digitized letters, snapshots, maps, and oral history interviews—for an immersive user experience. Observe the journeys of four men who personally witnessed the invasion of Normandy—and glimpse their lives before, on, and after June 6, 1944.