The invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, taken by Nazi Germany just four years prior, was the largest invasion by sea in world history.
On that day, 12,000 U.S., British, and Canadian forces died in the assault that was a turning point in the "war to end all wars".
"It really was the major turning point in World War II. Even though it was the end, it was a long end because they had to progress forward, and they met tremendous resistance from the German army," said Dr. Ray Sickinger, a history professor at Providence College.
There were many battles in that war, where nearly 500,000 U.S. military died. Worldwide, including civilians, a staggering 60 million people were killed.
"It's extremely important that we not forget history. Too many people do not have a historical consciousness and the more we go, the years that we go, less and less of those who were actually involved are surviving," Sickinger said.
At the World War II monument at Memorial Park in Providence, just seeing the names here really makes the effort hit home.
"It represents an incredible example of courage and determination," Sickinger said.
Rhode Islanders live the lives they have today because of the men and women who fought the war, and because of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"These were people who were doing that not for any kind of glory, not for personal recognition, they were doing it because they felt that they were fighting for an important cause, and they were," Sickinger said. "Never assume that freedom is secure. Always understand that freedom is something that is worth fighting for, and it is something that has to be guarded very carefully."