Men and women who were born in 1944, the beginning of the end of World War II, turned 74 years old this year.
That said, few of America’s oldest veterans are still alive to tell their stories of WWII and the devastation it caused throughout Europe.
For Americans too young to feel much of a connection to an event that happened so long ago, picturing the horrors of war can be difficult.
Thanks to a series of stunning then-and-now photos of war-torn cities, generations of Americans have the opportunity to digest the reality of WWII in a more meaningful way.
The series of D-Day landing photos were originally posted by HuffPost UK.
This photo features carefree tourists enjoying a sunny day on Omaha beach, contrasted with American soldiers invading the French coastline on June 6, 1944.
A visit to the beach today tells a different story from the day U.S. reinforcements lined the shores during the Normandy D-Day landings near Vierville sur Mer, France.
D-Day was described by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as “undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place,” and involved an astounding 3 million troops.
In the main square of Place du Marché in Trévières, France, a family of tourists appears to stroll right past the body of a dead German soldier.
The town was invaded by American troops in 1944, but judging by the modern-day image, Place du Marché looks healed and whole once again.
The third photo features Juno Beach in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, France, once devastated by plane wreckage and debris.
Because of the war heroes of 1944, families can enjoy a memorable day at sea with thoughts of foreign invasion far from their minds.
Rue Saint-Pierre in Caen, France, was utterly demolished following the D-Day landings. Now, citizens and tourists stroll safely down the street that was once invaded by Canadian troops.
These haunting images have given people around the world a deeper gratitude and respect for the veterans who lived through the war.
This Veteran’s Day, as we pause to reflect on the sacrifice American veterans have made on behalf of our freedom, may these images come to mind and offer us all a perspective of humility and gratitude.
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