Spring is probably my favorite time of the year—except for the seasonal allergies part. For us at the National D-Day Memorial, it means that water is back in the invasion tableau, the cherry trees are blooming, and that the first of our major educational events, Prelude to Invasion, is just around the corner.
I’m very excited for Prelude to Invasion this year. We’re focusing on how the Allies prepared for the D-Day invasion. Living historians portraying General Omar Bradley, the Polish Air Force, and the British Airborne will be on site to share about the preparations for the invasion and will be holding mission de-briefs and drills throughout the day that let you experience what it was like to be an Allied soldier, sailor, and airmen preparing for D-Day. For a local perspective on the training for the invasion, we’ll have the Bedford Museum on site portraying Bedford Boys, Roy and Ray Stevens, based on their letters from the war to the Thaxton sisters. We will also have WDBJ radio show performances throughout the day for a taste of what this area of Virginia would have listened to during the war. Last, but certainly not least, we will have WWII veterans on site to share their stories from the war.
|Prelude to Invasion also serves as our annual Scout Day|
where Boy and Girl Scouts can earn a Memorial patch
Prelude to Invasion will be on Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 10:00AM to 3:00PM. Regular admission fees apply, but include a free activity guide for students. We’ll also have Blue Ridge BBQ Shack on site that day. For more information about this event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-351-DDAY.
With Prelude to Invasion on my mind, for the next few weeks we will be featuring blog posts on the twelve nations of the Allied Expeditionary Force that landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. First up is the United States’ involvement in the invasion.
Although the United States did not officially enter World War II until December 8th, 1941, the U.S. under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s leadership provided material and financial support in the early years of the war to the Allied nations through initiatives, such as the Lend-Lease Act. In 1940, the U.S. also initiated its first peace-time draft to build-up its military. However, it was not until after the attack on Pearl Harbor that the United States started fighting in WWII beginning in the Pacific and North Africa in 1942.
|Stalin, FDR, and Churchill at the Tehran Conference|
At the Tehran Conference in 1943, the major Allied leaders—Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill—met to discuss strategy regarding the rest of the war. It was there that Stalin introduced the idea of opening a new front in Europe. Within a month of the Tehran Conference, American General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed to command the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force, which included Operation Overlord, the codename for the D-Day invasion. With his team of American and British generals, Eisenhower orchestrated the largest amphibious invasion in history. American forces landed on two of the five beaches, Omaha and Utah, in Normandy, France on D-Day with 2,499 Americans killed on the first day of the invasion.
While America played a large role in the D-Day invasion, it would not have been successful without the support of eleven other nations who contributed to the Allied Expeditionary Force with a shared goal of a Europe free of Nazi tyranny.
Until Next Time,