A look back at D-Day 74 years later

On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, to begin freeing northwestern Europe from under the boot of Nazism. Although it was a decisive Allied victory that changed the course of World War II, thousands of courageous young men gave their lives on those beaches in northern France. The U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation has verified that 2,499 Americans and 1,914 from other Allied nations were killed on that day — a total of 4,413 Allied deaths.

War photographers accompanied the infantrymen as they disembarked from landing crafts and ran headfirst into enemy fire. Pictures of that pivotal battle are a sober reminder of the courage, resolve and selflessness needed to fight fascism and the debt subsequent generations owe to the GI Generation. Today, across the globe, men and women honor the sacrifice made by a few good men to liberate Europe and defeat fascism. (Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

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<p>U.S. troops wading through water after reaching Normandy, France, and landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images) </p>
Remembering D-Day

U.S. troops wading through water after reaching Normandy, France, and landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

<p>Hundreds of American paratroopers drop into Normandy, France, on or near D-Day, June 6, 1944. Their landing, part of an all-out Allied assault from air and sea, was the beginning of a sweep through Europe that would finally defeat Nazi Germany. (Photo: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Hundreds of American paratroopers drop into Normandy, France, on or near D-Day, June 6, 1944. Their landing, part of an all-out Allied assault from air and sea, was the beginning of a sweep through Europe that would finally defeat Nazi Germany. (Photo: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

<p>American soldiers go ashore in Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy in World War II. (Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images) </p>
Remembering D-Day

American soldiers go ashore in Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy in World War II. (Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

<p>An American GI asleep in a trench in Normandy, France. (Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images) </p>
Remembering D-Day

An American GI asleep in a trench in Normandy, France. (Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images)

<p>This monument to an unidentified American soldier who died in the D-Day assault was placed on the shell-blasted shore of Normandy, France, after the invasion in June 1944. (Photo: Corbis via Getty Images) </p>
Remembering D-Day

This monument to an unidentified American soldier who died in the D-Day assault was placed on the shell-blasted shore of Normandy, France, after the invasion in June 1944. (Photo: Corbis via Getty Images)

<p>A dead American soldier lies face down on a Normandy, France, beach following the 1944 D-Day invasion. (Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images) </p>
Remembering D-Day

A dead American soldier lies face down on a Normandy, France, beach following the 1944 D-Day invasion. (Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images)

<p>“Ducks” (amphibious trucks) and a half-track follow foot troops ashore during the invasion of France on a 100-mile front along the Normandy coast by Allied forces on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

“Ducks” (amphibious trucks) and a half-track follow foot troops ashore during the invasion of France on a 100-mile front along the Normandy coast by Allied forces on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>Men and assault vehicles storm the beach as Allied landing crafts reach their destination during the initial Normandy landing operations in France on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Men and assault vehicles storm the beach as Allied landing crafts reach their destination during the initial Normandy landing operations in France on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>Allied possession of the French port of Cherbourg and control of the Cherbourg peninsula would make available the first site on the Western European coast. Heavy supplies could be landed directly from ships sailing from Britain as well as from North America. The black area on the map is Allied-held territory. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Allied possession of the French port of Cherbourg and control of the Cherbourg peninsula would make available the first site on the Western European coast. Heavy supplies could be landed directly from ships sailing from Britain as well as from North America. The black area on the map is Allied-held territory. (Photo: AP)

<p>Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, wait by the chalk cliffs at Colleville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, wait by the chalk cliffs at Colleville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>Soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla are seen as they establish a beachhead code-named Juno Beach, near Bernières-sur-Mer, on the northern coast of France on June 6, 1944, during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla are seen as they establish a beachhead code-named Juno Beach, near Bernières-sur-Mer, on the northern coast of France on June 6, 1944, during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France. (Photo: AP)

<p>After landing at the shore, these British troops wait for the signal to move forward during the initial Allied landing operations in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

After landing at the shore, these British troops wait for the signal to move forward during the initial Allied landing operations in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>Soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla are carrying bicycles as they disembark from their Landing Craft Infantries at a beachhead code-named Juno Beach at Bernières-sur-Mer during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla are carrying bicycles as they disembark from their Landing Craft Infantries at a beachhead code-named Juno Beach at Bernières-sur-Mer during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>Allied forces Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with U.S. Army paratroopers of Easy Company, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (Strike) of the 101st Airborne Division at the RAF Greenham Common airfield in England on June 5, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Allied forces Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with U.S. Army paratroopers of Easy Company, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (Strike) of the 101st Airborne Division at the RAF Greenham Common airfield in England on June 5, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>U.S. Army soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, move out over the seawall on Utah Beach after coming ashore in front of a concrete wall near La Madeleine, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/Army Signal Corps Collection/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

U.S. Army soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, move out over the seawall on Utah Beach after coming ashore in front of a concrete wall near La Madeleine, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/Army Signal Corps Collection/handout via Reuters)

<p>Members of an American landing party assist troops whose landing craft was sunk by enemy fire off Omaha Beach, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: Weintraub/U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Members of an American landing party assist troops whose landing craft was sunk by enemy fire off Omaha Beach, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: Weintraub/U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>Off the British coast, this huge fleet of warships, transports and landing craft awaits the signal to get underway for the Allied invasion of northern France on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Off the British coast, this huge fleet of warships, transports and landing craft awaits the signal to get underway for the Allied invasion of northern France on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>Landing craft loaded with invasion assault landing craft tanks are loaded with half tracks and other armored vehicles by American troops at an embarkation point in England on June 6, 1944, just before they set sail for the D-Day invasion of the French coast. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Landing craft loaded with invasion assault landing craft tanks are loaded with half tracks and other armored vehicles by American troops at an embarkation point in England on June 6, 1944, just before they set sail for the D-Day invasion of the French coast. (Photo: AP)

<p>U.S. Army troops make a battle plan in a farmyard amid dead cattle, which had been killed by artillery bursts, near the D-Day landing zone of Utah Beach in Les-Dunes-de-Varreville, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

U.S. Army troops make a battle plan in a farmyard amid dead cattle, which had been killed by artillery bursts, near the D-Day landing zone of Utah Beach in Les-Dunes-de-Varreville, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>U.S. reinforcements land on Omaha Beach during the Normandy D-Day landings near Vierville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: Cpt. Herman Wall/U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

U.S. reinforcements land on Omaha Beach during the Normandy D-Day landings near Vierville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: Cpt. Herman Wall/U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>Under the cover of naval shell fire, American infantrymen wade ashore from their landing craft during the initial Normandy landing operations in France on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Under the cover of naval shell fire, American infantrymen wade ashore from their landing craft during the initial Normandy landing operations in France on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>American soldiers and supplies arrive on the shore of the French coast of German-occupied Normandy during the Allied D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, in World War II. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

American soldiers and supplies arrive on the shore of the French coast of German-occupied Normandy during the Allied D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, in World War II. (Photo: AP)

<p>Carrying full equipment, American assault troops move onto a beachhead code-named Omaha Beach on the northern coast of France on June 6, 1944, during the Allied invasion of the Normandy coast. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Carrying full equipment, American assault troops move onto a beachhead code-named Omaha Beach on the northern coast of France on June 6, 1944, during the Allied invasion of the Normandy coast. (Photo: AP)

<p>U.S. Army paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division drive a captured German Kübelwagen on D-Day at the junction of Rue Holgate and RN13 in Carentan, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

U.S. Army paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division drive a captured German Kübelwagen on D-Day at the junction of Rue Holgate and RN13 in Carentan, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>These members of the first groups of assault troops to take part in the Allied invasion of Northern France receive a benediction from an Army chaplain before leaving England on June 6, 1944, for the European continent. Their assault craft can be seen in the background. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

These members of the first groups of assault troops to take part in the Allied invasion of Northern France receive a benediction from an Army chaplain before leaving England on June 6, 1944, for the European continent. Their assault craft can be seen in the background. (Photo: AP)

<p>German prisoners of war march along the Juno Beach landing area to a ship taking them to England after they were captured by Canadian troops at Bernières-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: Ken Bell/National Archives of Canada/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

German prisoners of war march along the Juno Beach landing area to a ship taking them to England after they were captured by Canadian troops at Bernières-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: Ken Bell/National Archives of Canada/handout via Reuters)

<p>German prisoners of war captured after the D-Day landings in Normandy are guarded by U.S. troops at a camp in Nonant-le-Pin, France, on Aug. 21, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

German prisoners of war captured after the D-Day landings in Normandy are guarded by U.S. troops at a camp in Nonant-le-Pin, France, on Aug. 21, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>A view of a Rhino ferry on its way loaded down with men, supplies and trucks on June 7, 1944. Rhino ferries, self-propelled pontoons staffed by Seabees (members of a Navy construction battalion), are being used in the invasion. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

A view of a Rhino ferry on its way loaded down with men, supplies and trucks on June 7, 1944. Rhino ferries, self-propelled pontoons staffed by Seabees (members of a Navy construction battalion), are being used in the invasion. (Photo: AP)

<p>The body of a dead German soldier lies in the main square after the town was taken by U.S. troops who landed at nearby Omaha Beach in Trévières, France, on June 15, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

The body of a dead German soldier lies in the main square after the town was taken by U.S. troops who landed at nearby Omaha Beach in Trévières, France, on June 15, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>U.S. Army reinforcements march up a hill past a German bunker overlooking Omaha Beach after the D-Day landings near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 18, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

U.S. Army reinforcements march up a hill past a German bunker overlooking Omaha Beach after the D-Day landings near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 18, 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>A U.S. flag lies as a marker on a destroyed bunker two days after the strategic site overlooking D-Day beaches was captured by U.S. Army Rangers at Pointe du Hoc, France, on June 8, 1944. The gun emplacement was captured by seaborne Rangers, who arrived in the early hours of D-Day to find that the German artillery it housed had been moved inland. The guns were later located and destroyed. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

A U.S. flag lies as a marker on a destroyed bunker two days after the strategic site overlooking D-Day beaches was captured by U.S. Army Rangers at Pointe du Hoc, France, on June 8, 1944. The gun emplacement was captured by seaborne Rangers, who arrived in the early hours of D-Day to find that the German artillery it housed had been moved inland. The guns were later located and destroyed. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

<p>British Commandos advancing inland to gain the first village in Normandy, France, on June 7, 1944. (Photo: AP) </p>
Remembering D-Day

British Commandos advancing inland to gain the first village in Normandy, France, on June 7, 1944. (Photo: AP)

<p>Canadian troops patrol the destroyed Rue Saint-Pierre after German forces were dislodged from Caen, France, in July 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters) </p>
Remembering D-Day

Canadian troops patrol the destroyed Rue Saint-Pierre after German forces were dislodged from Caen, France, in July 1944. (Photo: U.S. National Archives/handout via Reuters)

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