D-Day Pictures: What Normandy, Sainte-Mère-Église, Other Historic Landmarks Look Like Today

Each year, the world pauses to remember the brave soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day. Today, 75 years later, many of the spots where the Allied troops waged the battle are still able to be visited.

On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 military members originating from at least 10 countries landed on the beaches of Normandy as part of the Allied invasion. Operation Overlord—or D-Day, as it is now most commonly known—was the largest amphibious assault in world history.

At the time of the invasion, Adolf Hitler's Third Reich and its allies occupied almost the entire European continent, including France and its bordering countries of Belgium and Italy. America entered World War II after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The D-Day invasion occurred two and a half years, almost to the day, later.

Unfortunately, by the time the massive invasion that led to the liberation of French cities and ultimately the rest of Europe occurred, more than five million Jewish people had been murdered, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Every year, people from all over the world travel to Normandy to visit the sites where the battles took place and pay their respects to the thousands of service members who sacrificed their lives for the fate of the free world.

Omaha, Juno, Utah, Gold, Sword Beaches

The stretch of French beaches where allied forces were to land was broken up into five sections and nicknamed Omaha, Juno, Utah, Gold and Sword.

American forces took Utah and Omaha, where the least and the greatest amount of casualties occurred respectively. The British commanded Gold and Sword beaches and joined forces with Canada at Juno.

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In this aerial view waves wash onto Omaha Beach in Normandy on May 4 at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, France. Getty/Sean Gallup


During the invasion, paratroopers landed in Sainte-Mère-Église, a small French town, including on the church's property. American paratrooper John Steele landed on the church tower and spent two hours playing dead as he hung from the steeple. He was eventually cut down and taken prisoner by the Germans, only to escape three days later.

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People walk in front of the Sainte-Mere-Eglise church where an effigy of a paratrooper hung on the bell tower in memory of Private John Steele snagged during Operation Overlord, on May 7, 2014. Getty/CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP

Pegasus Bridge

On D-Day, British forces were tasked with capturing the Caen Canal bridge, which later would be christened the Pegasus Bridge. It was the most famous mission of the British airborne division and took all of ten minutes to capture both Pegasus and the bridge over River Orne, according to the museum's website.

The bridge looks different today since it was replaced by a new bridge in 1994. Pegasus Bridge is now confined to a display in the park of the museum.

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A photo shows the Pegasus Bridge on May 31 in Benouville, France. Getty/DAMIEN MEYER/AFP

Pointe du Hoc

As American troops landed on Omaha and Utah beaches, Army Rangers with the American Second Ranger Battalion scaled 100-foot cliffs at Pointe du Hoc to capture German artillery. They successfully destroyed the guns, which could have imperiled troops on the beaches, and fought their way south.

An estimated 210 Rangers began the assault, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission, but only about 90 remained when they were relieved.

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In this aerial view La Pointe du Hoc, site of a World War II-era German bunker system and the objective of U.S. Rangers during the D-Day invasion, stands on April 29 near Cricqueville-sur-Mer, France. Getty/Sean Gallup

Batterie d'Azeville

Located about four miles from Sainte-Mère-Église was the Batterie d'Azeville, a German military battery and bunker disguised to look like a cottage. Equipped with four Schneider cannons, it was a threat to troops at Utah beach until a shell launched from the USS Nevada burst through it, killing multiple crews.


Arromanches-les-Bains, located adjacent to Normandy's beaches, was at the far end of Gold and used as an anchoring spot for a portable harbor called a Mulberry harbor. Each harbor, which was transported from England to France, had the ability to move 7,000 tons of vehicles and supplies per day from ship to shore, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

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A view of several hollow concrete blocks, the remains of Mulberry harbour which comprised of floating roadways and pier heads that went up and down with the tide, pictured in Arromanches-les-Bains, northwestern France on May 30. Getty/DAMIEN MEYER/AFP

Over the years, people have ventured to Normandy's beaches for reenactments and ceremonies held each year to memorialize the lives that were lost.

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