NORMANDY, France (06 June 2019) – This year marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Normandy, known as the Normandy Landings and more widely recognized as D-Day. This historic battle during the Second World War commemorates the ultimate sacrifices of all men and women who fought to defend our democratic values.
On June 6th 1944, Allied troops landed along a heavily fortified coastline on the beaches of Normandy in northern France to commence “Operation Overlord”. It had the goal to break the Axis stronghold of Nazi Germany in Western Europe. The joint naval, air, and land operation included more than 5,000 ships, 13,000 aircraft, and over 150,000 armed forces personnel composed primarily of U.S. American, British, and Canadian troops. By the end of the day, following a long and challenging battle, the Allies successfully gained a foothold in Continental Europe. Regrettably, victory during D-Day came at a high cost, with more than 9,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded in the fight to defend peace and freedom. However, the victory significantly weakened the enemy troops and paved the way for more than 100,000 soldiers to defeat Nazi Germany.
Multiple ceremonies were held throughout the day at different locations in the Normandy region to commemorate the events of D-Day. One of the ceremonies took place at the cemetery of Colleville-Sur-Mer attended by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General André Lanata also attended the ceremony alongside Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod D. Wolters, to express their profound gratitude for the sacrifices made by Allied service members on D-Day. “We are celebrating alongside younger generations, the men and women whom have lost their lives in the assault on the beaches of Normandy,” said General Lanata. “It is our responsibility to help them understand what guided our political leaders at that time in their determination to ensure we live in peace with all people and governments, by creating an alliance that serves to this day as the shield for our freedom, prosperity, and peace.”
The 75th anniversary of D-Day continues to symbolize the Alliance’s commitment to defending our democracies’ values. The Marshall Plan of 1948 set up relationships that led to the establishment of NATO in 1949. The North Atlantic Treaty laid out the founding principles for a security community of democratic nations in the Euro-Atlantic region. The events of today brought together many representatives, national leaders, veterans, and serving armed forces personnel in an expression of unity and widespread support among NATO Nations. The commemoration of the events of D-Day serve as an important reminder, especially for newer generations, of the shared commitment to strengthening and expanding the transatlantic bond and defending the Alliance’s core democratic principles.
NATO’s Allied Command Transformation is a strong symbol of this transatlantic relationship and an instrument of peace, dedicated to the preservation of democracy, freedom, and prosperity. As NATO’s Warfare Development Command, Allied Command Transformation is the Alliance’s agent of change, keeping the Alliance ahead of potential adversaries so as not to fight battles like those on the beaches of northern France in June 1944.
NATO continues to commemorate the sacrifices of those service members who bravely fought to liberate Western Europe, paving the way for us to live in free and democratic societies. Today, the Alliance remains committed to safeguarding the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.
Archive Photos: Courtesy File Photos from Navy History and Heritage Command