The 60th anniversary of D-Day and the dedication of D.C.'s first National WWII Memorial have heightened World War II interest in the United States, but the war reached all corners of the globe, leaving a physical record that remains accessible to anyone who wants to know about and remember the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation. , author of The 25 Best World War II Sites: European Theater and Pacific Theater travel guides.
National World War II Memorial

It seemed strange. The United States capital had monuments honoring American soldiers from Korea, Vietnam, even the Civil War. Yet the "Greatest Generation," which fought the largest war in history, was largely ignored. That changed on May 29 with the dedication of the National World War II Memorial.

Located on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, the sunken plaza covers 7.4 acres and incorporates 56 massive pillars representing wartime U.S. states and territories. A pair of 43-foot arches emblazoned "Atlantic" and "Pacific" commemorates both fronts of the war. Sixteen million Americans served in the armed forces during World War II (405,973 died, 671,278 were injured), but the monument honors all American participants, including those on the homefront.

D-Day In Normandy

Accounts of the June 6, 1944, Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, typically impose a sense of narrative order upon events of the most historic day in American arms. But the experience of what was at the time the largest amphibious assault ever mounted (at right) is best understood in terms of the early anarchy that prevailed on the invasion beaches. As one GI disembarking onto a corpse-littered Omaha Beach put it: "I became a visitor to hell."

Nine Allied divisions - five American, three British, one Canadian, with Belgian, French, Polish, and other Allied participation - established a foothold