Today, in Normandy, France and many places around the world, we observe the 70th anniversary of D-Day – June 6, 1944.
My first recollection of hearing the term, D-Day, was probably in grade school – maybe 4th or 5th grade. I knew it was a critically important date in World War II (WWII), however, the details of what actually happened and how everything came together to deliver a victory for the Allied troops was always fuzzy to me. That was before I watched a new two-hour documentary, D-Day 360 [Ref 1]. Perhaps it was the pictures, more so than the words, that told the story of the largest amphibious invasion in the world that enlightened my understanding of the 24-hours that changed the world.
Ever wonder what the “D” in D-Day stands for? I’ve asked this question for years. The best answer that has been given is “departed” as in departed date.
D-Day 360 focuses on the most important strip of Omaha Beach, and collects the most relevant events and data points to reveal how the odds of victory in the greatest gamble of WWII swung on what happened during the first five-hours on a five mile stretch of French coastline.
Interesting, this famed invasion was suppose to occur the day before on June 5th, however, stormy weather, characteristic of this region, delayed the attack. It was in the early morning on June 6, 1944 that 150,000+ troops landed in the region by land and sea – 73,000 were Americans.
Another important fact to remember was the high number of casualties that were sustained during that 24-hour period. About 9,000 men lost their lives on D-Day. Five thousand died on the beaches within the first few hours of the attack.
The film takes advantage of forensic laser scanning, 3-D computer modeling, eye witness accounts of the battle, and light detection and ranging technology (LiDAR) to create the landscape. This allows the viewer to see the battle close up to a single solider, or pull back for a more panoramic view of the battlefield. I am very familiar with LiDAR, but more so for emissions measurement and air quality.
We thank the men who gave their lives and service that day, so that we can enjoy the liberties and freedom that we do today. The eyes of the world were upon them.
1. D-Day 360, http://www.pbs.org/program/d-day-360/, Produced by Glenn Swift and directed by Ian Duncan for Windfall Films.