Remembering and Honoring D-Day on Its 75th Anniversary; Solemn and Sacred Memorials, Museums, and Exhibits Tell the Story of an Epic Event and Great Sacrifice

Header photo is an overview of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (Image credit: American Battle Monuments Commission)

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”

From The Order of the Day, a directive that Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower issued to all soldiers in the Allied Expeditionary Force on the evening of June 5, 1944

Willwork Global Event Services is a leader in exhibition services and event project management. 

It is our privilege and good fortune to have a client roster that includes some of the largest, best-known, and most successful multinational corporations – as well as recent startups with only a few employees, which you may not have heard about … yet … but give it time and you will.

In this space, and across our social media network, and in other of our communications vehicles and channels, Willwork talks a lot about the shows and events business, and the value, importance, and dignity of labor.

We promote and advocate for, here, the skilled trades.

We use this network and those vehicles, those channels, to tout and herald extraordinary personal and organizational achievement, and historic accomplishment, across all societal sectors.

Willwork employs and leverages the profile and reach of our blog, Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and our hardcopy company newsletter and magazine, to commend the noble and the virtuous, whether practiced by a company, team, or person.

Oftentimes on this blog, we tie in historic events and great people to the business of shows and events.

For example, if you click here you will be taken to a post, “Museums and Exhibitions, and Tours, that Honor and Educate About the Black Experience in America,” published on March 1, 2018.

Clicking here transports you to a 2017 Memorial Day post about how miracle and extraordinary logistics – with logistics integral to the shows events biz – that were pulled off by American colonial freedom fighters in 1776, helped launch the United States and save a rebellion in its infancy.

On February 25 of this year we published here a post which was linked to the 500th anniversary, on May 2, 2019, of the death of Leonardo da Vinci – and that throughout 2019, this anniversary was being recognized and commemorated with tributes to Leonardo and his life, with most of these acclamations taking place in Europe.

In the post, which can be accessed in clicking here, we featured discussion of a vocation and artistic passion of Leonardo’s, not well known – and in which his output was brilliant – of creating and producing plays, pageants, exhibitions, and special events – work with which Willwork feels kinship.

And most and absolutely relevant to today, June 6, 2019, the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the launch of the Allied amphibious invasion of German controlled fortress Europe, we share a link to a post, “D-Day and Winning the Logistics,” published here on the 70th anniversary of the invasion.

Among all the exceptional, accurate, and fitting short-form and newspaper and magazine chronicling of D-Day and the fighting that followed over the next several days that, a column written by iconic and heroic war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, ranks with the best.

Mr. Pyle, reporting for Scripps-Howard newspapers, was embedded with Allied combat units in the European theater, and later in the Pacific theater, where he was shot dead by a Japanese machine gunner. 

The day after D-Day, Mr. Pyle made it to the beaches of Normandy.  His column, “A Pure Miracle,” published on June 12, 1944, was one of three columns he wrote about the D-Day invasion, all of which were published in Scripps-Howard newspapers. 

In this excerpt from the column, Mr. Pyle beautifully, succinctly, and simply tells the reader the reason for the column, while also setting and framing the piece against the awesome and mountainous achievement and sacrifice:

“In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.”

Willwork recommends and points to another column of Mr. Pyle’s, one that was published in late summer 1943 from Sicily, where Mr. Pyle was covering the Allied fighting of the Italian campaign, the quest to win back Sicily and Italy from Axis control.

The column, “Mapping and Engineering the War,” honors and expresses a bit of marveling at the skills of the American soldier mapmakers and engineers, and their contributions to winning the fight. 

We submit that many employed in the shows and events industry, particularly those who plan floor layouts and work with blueprints, and those who design and engineer structures and exhibits, would hold a special reverence and appreciation for what mapmakers and engineers produced in a combat zone.

Here in the U.S. and abroad, with a fitting and necessary concentration on the northern coast of France, there are graves, cemeteries, and memorials honoring and remembering those who fought, and those who fell, on D-Day and in the ensuing push into Normandy and then further into the French countryside.

Photo of the original copy of Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Order of the Day (Image credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Operation Overlord was the code word that the Allied commanders assigned to the assault that would launch from the British Isles and cross the English Channel.

There are also many wonderful and expertly curated museums that maintain D-Day exhibits, with one U.S. museum dedicated to the telling of the D-Day story, and the sacrifice of Americans in the battle.  

Special events and remembrances of the 75th anniversary of the invasion and extended battle for Normandy are being held at cemeteries and museums in the U.S. and France.

Willwork has selected and shares here information on memorials, museums, and exhibitions that give tribute to, preserve the memory of, and chronicle what happened on June 6, 1944.

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Me, France is remarkable, beautiful, stirring, and a place that commands reflection and solemnity.

Graves at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Cared for and under the custodianship of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is the most visited ABMC cemetery, with an annual attendance of one million.

Here is an excerpt from the “Overview” page of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial section of the ABMC website:

“The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located in Colleville-sur-Mer, on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 as the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery site, at the north end of its half mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of more than 9,380 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.”

On the grounds of the cemetery and memorial is a $30 million visitor center dedicated on June 6, 2007, the 63rd anniversary of the invasion.

The visitor center has been recently renovated and reopened just this past Saturday.

To learn about the design of the “interpretive exhibits” at the visitor center, please click here.

As well, within the visitor center is a theater that regularly plays On Their Shoulders, a movie about three Americans who died in the battle to take Normandy and the surrounding countryside, and are buried at Normandy American Cemetery.

When considered as a percentage of a community’s total population, there is not city or town in America that suffered a bigger loss on D-Day and the broader Normandy campaign than did Bedford, VA.

Bedford had a population of 3,200 in 1944.  Nineteen of its sons died on June 6, 1944 in the D-Day invasion.  Four young men from Bedford died in battle in northern France after D-Day.

It is wholly fitting that Bedford is the home of The National D-Day Memorial.

National D-Day Memorial (Image credit: National D-Day Memorial)

President George W. Bush dedicated the National D-Day Memorial on June 6, 2001.

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans “tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.”

A permanent exhibit at the National World War II Museum is the “The D-Day Invasion at Normandy.”

Located only about 25 miles northwest of the Willwork headquarters, in Natick, MA, is the International Museum of World War II, a museum of 7,500 artifacts, and which holds a mission to provide a global perspective on the war.   

Clicking here takes you to the section of the International Museum of World War II website where you can view some of the artifacts in the museum’s D-Day collection.

The Normandy Tourism and Visitors Bureau devotes a significant component of its operations to D-Day tours and publicizing other D-Day related events and places.

Everyday should be a day in which we keep in mind and honor those who sacrificed, some who sacrificed all, to preserve and defend liberty.

And at this time in history, with this anniversary upon us, we should commit special reflection, and extend special gratitude, to the young men who 75 years ago today – through sea, air, and ground – secured that foothold on those beaches of Normandy, and commenced the beginning of the end of the barbarism and oppression of Nazi Germany.

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