Remembering D-Day

Rachael Wolfson

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Photo Courtesy of The Digital Collections of the National WWII Museum

Today is the 78th anniversary of D-Day. 78 years ago American soldiers and allied powers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France and attacked Nazi, Germany that occupied the land. D-Day is a very important day in American history, as it was the day in which Nazi, Germany was defeated.

Today is the 78th anniversary of D-Day (also known as Operation Overlord). Seventy-eight years ago on this day, June 6, brave young American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France while German soldiers shot down at them with machine guns. A total of 2,501 Americans and 1,913 allies died on D-Day. The Americans and allied powers that fought on D-Day were crucial to the United States winning World War II. Yet, every year, it seems that D-Day gets unnoticed by the American public, specifically adolescents.

I surveyed 22 students at WJ randomly. I asked them if they know what D-Day is, what day it’s on, and what D-Day means to them. Only six surveyed students knew what D-Day was. None of those students knew the date of D-Day. And when asked what D-Day means to them, I received answers such as, It doesn’t mean much to me because it didn’t really impact me or it was the day that something happened…I don’t really know.

It’s very sad that so few teenagers know what happened on D-Day and the tremendous impact it had on our world. I believe that part of the problem is that D-Day is no longer taught or discussed in school.
In my APUSH class, my teacher said that D-Day won’t even show up on the AP Exam, as it’s not really a part of the AP curriculum. But my teacher said that she still wanted to discuss D-Day with us, as it’s a very crucial day in American History.

The fact that class curricula don’t put enough emphasis on D-Day is part of the problem why so few adolescents know about D-Day and its relevance.

D-Day was no quick, easy victory for the Allies. As General Dwight D. Eisenhower said to his troops,

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you…Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.”

— General Dwight D. Eisenhower

The D-Day attack combined naval, air and land combat. Troops landed by parachutes and other soldiers climbed up the beaches from the ocean. It was a very bloody battle but also an important one, as it enabled the United States and the Allies to eventually defeat Nazi Germany, liberate Europe, and answer the cries of Jews who were being anhilated in concentration camps.

On June 6, 1984, President Ronald Reagan stood on the very spot where the American soldiers and allied powers had stormed the beaches of Normandy. He took the time to remember D-Day and address D-Day veterans who stood before him.

“You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it?…We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love,” Reagan said.

The soldiers that left their homes and families behind to fight on D-Day are true heroes, and we all need to take the time to recognize them on this day. They died for democracy, for our country and for you.

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