Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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June 6th
D-Day
Dwight D. Eisenhower once described the Allied forces assembled in Britain for the D-Day invasion of northern France as “a great human spring, coiled for the moment when its energy would be released and it would vault the English Channel in the greatest amphibious assault ever attempted.”

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, that tense, coiled spring was finally released as the Allied fleet reached Normandy. Hundreds of planes dropped paratroopers behind German lines to capture bridges and railroad tracks. At dawn huge battleship guns began blasting away at German coastal fortifications. Amphibious craft landed on five beaches, and thousands of American, British, Canadian, and French troops fought their way ashore.

U.S. forces landing at Omaha Beach struggled with high seas, fog, mines, and enemy fire that poured down from high bluffs. Many soldiers were shot getting off their boats and died in the surf. Those who reached the sand met a wall of bullets. One commander told his men that only two types of people would stay on the beach – those dead and those going to die – so they’d better push forward. In some units on Omaha, 90 percent of the troops were killed or wounded. But the assault force managed to cross the beach and drive the Germans inland.

At Utah Beach, the other U.S. landing zone, the first wave of troops found themselves 2,000 yards south of where they were supposed to be. It was a lucky miss since the area was not as heavily defended as the original target. Quick-thinking commanders ordered troops to follow the first wave ashore to secure a beachhead.

Before D-Day was over, 155,000 Allied troops were ashore. Months of hard fighting lay ahead. But the Allies had at last established a toehold in northern Europe.

American History Parade
1840
In Columbus, Ohio, William Henry Harrison becomes the first presidential candidate to make a campaign speech (before that time, candidates let others speak on their behalf).

1912
The largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century begins near Mount Katmai, Alaska.

1933
The first drive-in movie theater opens in Camden, New Jersey.

1944
The Allies assault the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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