This week marks the anniversary of the D-Day invasion, that turned the tide of World War II.

Few of the soldiers that took part in that event are still with us. Those of a certain generation have memories of parents and grandparents speaking of the events of the day.

It's hard to overstate the importance of this event. Had the soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy failed that day, the world would be different today in unfathomable ways - probably for the worse.

Would Hitler have prevailed and won the war? Not likely, given the massive resources brought to the war by the Americans and the rugged determination of the Russians.

Historian Stephen Ambrose suggested a more likely scenario: that Russia would have captured Berlin from the east as they did, and kept moving on. With no significant Allied presence on the continent, Stalin would like have pushed onward, running roughshod over the rest of Europe. The war would have ended with the vicious Stalin regime in undisputed control of Europe, no doubt with ambitions spreading further afield.

The worst-case scenario would perhaps be an Orwellian nightmare of a world laid waste by warring dictators.

That, as Ambrose noted, would have been a horrible prospect. But that didn't happen - in no small part due to what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished on the beaches at Normandy.