(CNN) — Seventy-four years ago this week, 132,000 soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in the greatest amphibious and air invasion ever attempted in wartime.
More than 4,400 Allied soldiers never made it home.
June 6, 1944 stands out in our collective memory as a day of enormous personal heroism and sacrifice, and it will always be a hallowed date for Americans as well as for the French people, for whom D-Day marked the start of their liberation from Nazi tyranny.
The United States Armed Forces that fought and won World War II provide an enduring example of courage and heroism. During the war, 16 million Americans put on a uniform.
American citizens set an example of working together, sharing sacrifices, and honoring the nation above individual needs. Americans paid high income taxes, rationed their food, worked in government-funded industries and sent their sons to die overseas to defend freedom.
That is the spirit of D-Day. The greatest generation could not have done it alone.
They also had the help of their allies.
On June 6, 1944, more British Commonwealth troops landed on the Normandy beaches than Americans. The commander of the ground forces that day was a Brit, General Bernard Montgomery, as were the commanders of the naval and air forces on that day.
Victory over the Germans in France that summer came only through close partnership with our British and Canadian allies who fought and died alongside American boys to defend freedom.
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