06 June 2019

75th Anniversary of D-Day

Intro Copy

I would guess that almost everyone reading this blog has seen the film Saving Private Ryan. Historians and veterans alike have said that Steven Spielberg’s movie presents the most authentic depiction of what it was like for a soldier to land on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. I remember when I saw it at the cinema, the audience sat in reverent silence as the final credits were rolling, and I saw some older men weeping. In World War II, Adolf Hitler and his army had overrun large portions of the European continent. From 1942 to 1944, Germany built an extensive system of fortifications along the coast of France. This “Atlantic Wall” was intended to prevent an Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Western Europe. Supreme Allied Commander in Europe General Dwight D. Eisenhower decided that the only way to dislodge Hitler’s forces from Europe was to launch a massive, but risky, invasion along the northwestern coast of France. The overall invasion was named Operation Overlord. The specific landing on the beaches of Normandy was called Operation Neptune. In the early morning of June 6, 1944, the Allied offensive began. More than 160,000 troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline. The troops were supported by some 5,000 naval ships and 13,000 aircraft. The fighting on the five beachheads was intense and costly, but by the end of the day, the Allies had established their sought-after foothold in Europe. The landing in Normandy was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. With Allied forces pushing through France and the Soviet Army squeezing Germany from the East, Hitler’s days were numbered. More than 9,000 Allies were killed or wounded during the amphibious assault. 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Although most schools are out for summer vacation, that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Now would be a good time to use the many resources in eLibrary to find out about the sacrifices made to free Europe from tyranny and bring an end to World War II. In addition to eLibrary, another great resource is the ProQuest History Vault. You can also find many great videos about D-Day using ProQuest's Alexander Street, including D-Day, The Total Story and D-Day in HD, just to name two. *Besides the above-mentioned Saving Private Ryan (1998), there are other D-Day-related films that are quite good, including The Longest Day (1962), Band of Brothers (2001) and Storming Juno (2010). My personal favorite, however, is the little-known movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day (2004). This film has no battle scenes whatsoever; it concentrates on the planning of the Normandy invasion and the trials General Eisenhower (Ike) had to overcome to pull off the most important military maneuver in modern history. Don’t have eLibrary? Request a Free Trial!