Operation Overlord

Operation Overlord

City marks 80th anniversary of D-Day invasion.

Jenny Brawley as Rosie the Riveter at the 80th commemoration of D-Day June 2 at Market Square.

Jenny Brawley as Rosie the Riveter at the 80th commemoration of D-Day June 2 at Market Square.

 It was the largest seaborne invasion in history. On June 6, 1944, 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, starting the epic battle known as D-Day in an offensive to take back Europe from Nazi occupation during World War II.

Code named Operation Overlord, the fighting was fierce with over 4,900 soldiers, sailors, airmen and coast guardsmen killed, missing or unaccounted for. But the battle is seen as the turning point in WWII and leading to an Allied victory the following year.

On June 2, the city commemorated the 80th anniversary of D-Day with a ceremony at Market Square. Featured were WWII reenactors, the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum, the Alexandria Citizens Swing Band and displays detailing the battle on the Normandy beaches of Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword.

“I am here to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day and also to honor the women who supported the war effort,” said Honor Flight Network’s Jenny Brawley, who was dressed as Rosie the Riveter.

The D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France was unprecedented in scale. It was the largest-ever coalition of ships, troops, planes and vehicles to attack Adolf Hitler’s defenses in western Europe.

More than 2,500 Americans were killed on D-Day itself with another 73,000 Allied forces killed in the ensuing Battle of Normandy. At least four local soldiers were among those casualties and are buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy.

California residents Miya Babay and Ander Bordner pose in front of a World War II vehicle on display at the 80th commemoration of D-Day June 2 at Market Square.


“It is a life changing experience to walk along the beaches of Normandy,” said Mayor Justin Wilson, who will be participating in the 80th anniversary D-Day events in Normandy on June 6. “It is the sacrifice of so many in Alexandria, so many in the Commonwealth of Virginia, so many around our nation and around the world that we commemorate today.” 

Northern Virginia soldiers killed in action and interred in Normandy include Sgt. Charles Couse, SSgt. Clyde H. Harris, and William E. Lumsden. Pvt. William H. Fisher, also killed in action, is among the names on the cemetery’s Tablet of the Missing.

The event marks the 14th annual celebration, planned and executed by the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee. The city of Caen, in western Normandy, was the center of some of the heaviest fighting after the Allies landed on the nearby beaches that marked the beginning of the end of World War II. 

Sponsors of the event included Wegmans, Alexandria Toyota, Hilton, Doug and Wendy John, Alexandria Radio Club, Your Hobby Place and Kona Ice of Fairfax.

“In 2024, at a time when American resolve, when world resolve to tackle tyranny and to tackle those who would sow chaos on the European continent, it is all important to remember what came together in 1944,” Wilson said. “Eighty years ago it was the resolve of America and its allies to push back tyranny, to push back fascism that ensured that for much of the last century we have had peace and prosperity. That is what we honor and commemorate.”