The greatest turning point of World War II was wrought with valor and determination that most could never imagine as the Allied forces undertook a bold invasion of the European mainland, slogging ashore amid enemy fire and raging seas, knowing that their mission was as dangerous as it was necessary.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the famous storming of the beaches of Normandy that’s been depicted in countless movies and documentaries and has been a source of awe for generations. We remember this day not only because of the bravery of the troops who took part in the operation, thousands of whom would never return home, but because of the battle’s importance in beating back the Nazi stranglehold over much of Europe, which would have continued unchecked without the courage and sacrifice of the D-Day veterans.

The significance of D-Day lives on here and now – because it serves as a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy today can only be sustained by sacrifice and because, for many in our region who fought in World War II or had friends or family who did, D-Day is much more than a history lesson.

To mark this solemn anniversary, we’ve collected the names of hundreds of local veterans who fought in World War II. Some of them fought in the Battle of Normandy itself, 75 years ago. Many paid the ultimate price during the war. Every one of them was prepared to do whatever it took to defeat Hitler and ensure freedom for Europe and the rest of the world.

This extensive list is by no means comprehensive, but we believe it serves as an important reminder of the extraordinary bravery of ordinary people, which made all the difference during the war.

We invite you to read their names and stories, to look at the photos and to remember the valor of those who were willing to face unthinkable danger in order to turn the tide of the war. Let us hope that such brave fighters will always be found to defend our freedoms when needed.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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