D-Day numbers tell their tale

Friday, June 6, 2014

With America now attempting to wind down its longest-lasting war, attention is focused on a single soldier who may or may not have been a deserter, in exchange for five captives who definitely were terrorists.

As we debate the implications of the exchange of those six individuals, a look at the raw, nameless numbers from the D-Day invasion, occurring 70 years ago today, can bring things into perspective.

While about 4,500 Americans died from all causes in Iraq and more than 2,300 have died in Afghanistan since those wars began more than a decade ago, researchers have detailed 2,499 American fatalities on D-Day alone, and 1,915 from other Allied nations, for a total of 4,414.

Since history of wars is written by the winners, the number of German casualties at Normandy isn't known, but is estimated between 4,000 and 9,000 men.

According to an online question-and-answer website for historians and history buffs --http://history. stackexchange.com

More than 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy, including more than 209,000 Allied casualties, nearly 37,000 dead among ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths among the Allied air forces.

Today, 27 war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9386 American, 17,769 British, 5002 Canadian and 650 Poles.

Hollywood and historians have told and retold the story of D-Day in the 70 years since the event, each retelling reflecting the age in which its audience lives. The young men who hit the beaches, jumped from the planes and landed in gliders are now in their 90s, their numbers fewer and fewer by the day. While most can no longer tell their stories, the numbers tell a tale of their own.

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