It isn't just stories like the capture of Pegasus Bridge which boggle the mind. Consider the following D-Day facts:
- Between the 1st of April and the 5th of June, 1944, the Allies flew 14,000 missions losing 12,000 airmen and 2,000 aircraft.
- 127 more planes were lost on D-Day.
- By the end of the Normandy campaign, 28,000 airmen were dead.
Had it not been for the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming (in 1928) and further research and testing by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain (in the late 30s and early 40s) - proving that penicillin could successfully treat infections - the death tolls would have been far greater.
Five years before he died, General Eisenhower (who was a conquering hero at war's end and later served two terms as America's president) came back to Colleville-sur-Mer. It was the first, and only, time he made that journey after the war. Looking over Omaha Beach, he spoke from his heart:
. . . these men came here - British and our allies, and Americans - to storm these beaches for one purpose only, not to gain anything for ourselves, not to fulfill any ambitions that America had for conquest, but just to preserve freedom. . . . Many thousands of men have died for such ideals as these. . . but these young boys. . . were cut off in their prime. . . I devoutly hope that we will never again have to see such scenes as these. I think and hope, and pray, that humanity will have learned. . . we must find some way . . . to gain an eternal peace for this world. (Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life, by Carlo D'Este, p. 705.)
Decades after D-Day, even though humanity seems farther than ever from finding "some way to gain an eternal peace for this world," everyone can agree on at least one point. Those who fought, and died, to free Europe on that day altered the course of history.