Today we honor his bravery and the sacrifices made by the thousands of other American, British, and Canadian troops who took part in Operation Overlord, the Allied offensive which liberated northern France from Nazi rule and set the stage for the final push on Berlin. More than 70,000 soldiers, including 30,000 Germans, lost their lives during the two-month campaign, which began 63 years ago today. The idea for an invasion of western Europe had been discussed by the British as early as 1940, but pressure to act was ratcheted up a notch in 1942 by Josef Stalin, who wanted a second front opened against Hitler in order to relieve his bleeding and beleaguered Soviet armies.
Dwight Eisenhower chose June 5 as the day the operation would begin, but a patch of bad weather prompted him to delay it for 24 hours. The Allies divided Normandy into five beaches which they codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword, and Juno. Mr. Fantacone and tens of thousands of other American GIs were tasked with securing the first two. If you see a WWII vet today, shake his hand and offer a word of thanks.
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