Remembering Granville Fallen Soldiers On Memorial Day

The 79th anniversary of Operation Overlord is today. It was better known as “D-Day,” and it helped to win World War II. D-Day remains the largest amphibious military operation in history. The invasion involved 156,115 men, 6,939 ships and landing craft, 10,440 aircraft, 450,000 tons of ordnance, and 17 million maps.

More than two years were spent planning the invasion. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill first discussed a large-scale invasion of Europe shortly after the United States entered the war. However, it wasn’t until December 1943, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was chosen Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, that the planning for the invasion became urgent.

Four months later, The Allies practiced the invasion in Devon, England. β€œOperation Tiger” ended in tragedy. More than seven hundred Allied personnel were murdered after German boats detected and attacked their convoy. Despite the catastrophe, Eisenhower and his team learned valuable lessons from it.

The daring and courage that Allied forces demonstrated on D-Day, assaulting the beaches of Normandy and mounting its cliffs remain the stuff of legend. Not unexpectedly, Hollywood has sought to represent what soldiers who fought at Normandy endured through films like The Longest Day, Overlord, and Saving Private Ryan, as well as in the TV series Band of Brothers.

D-Day’s success was expensive to achieve. 2,502 American soldiers were among the 4,000 Allied soldiers who didn’t make it home. They left behind mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, husbands and girlfriends, and kids and daughters. The Normandy American Cemetery has replaced the temporary graveyard established on June 8 by the U.S. First Army. To walk the paths of the cemetery amid row after row of graves is to gain a sense of just how much was given.

Thank goodness you can read about every American who died on D-Day. Due to the efforts of Don Milne, a retired bank employee from Louisville, Kentucky, their stories are now accessible. He is leading a grassroots effort called Stories Behind the Stars to craft five-hundred-word obituaries for every one of the 421,000 U.S. military personnel who died in World War II.

With approximately one thousand volunteers from all fifty states and more than a dozen countries, the initiative has documented the stories of more than thirty thousand service members, including those who died at Pearl Harbor. By September 2, 2025, or the eighty-fifth anniversary of Japan’s formal surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri, which concluded World War II, Stories Behind the Stars expects to have finished its work.

Visit the Stories Behind the Stars volunteer page if you’d like to contribute to creating stories of the men and women who lost their lives during World War II.

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