Museum pays tribute to historic battle with special art exhibit, free public programming and educational travel tours in Normandy
NEW ORLEANS (January 29, 2019) – On June 6, 1944 Allied forces launched Operation Overlord – the code name for the massive Allied invasion of Normandy, France – with more than 150,000 troops. Ending with approximately 20,000 casualties on both sides, those who took part witnessed one of the most pivotal battles against Axis forces, and the beginning of a prolonged, costly and ultimately successful campaign to liberate northwest Europe.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day – a day now known as the greatest amphibious landing in history – The National WWII Museum will explore the epic battle through a myriad of special events, including three days of free public programming in New Orleans and educational tours abroad in Normandy, France. Additionally, the Museum will host a special exhibit featuring the artwork of French commando and fine-art painter Guy de Montlaur; release a book that tells the American story of the D-Day landings through personal accounts, images and artifacts from the Museum’s collections; and stream a live, national Electronic Field Trip throughout classrooms across the country.
“D-Day is always significant to remember as one of the key moments on the road to victory in World War II, and a day that marked the beginning of the end for Hitler’s Germany,” said Robert Citino, PhD, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at The National WWII Museum. “But the 75th anniversary of D-Day is even more important. As the generation that fought the war passes away, this June 6 may be the last major anniversary of the Normandy Landing in which we can honor surviving D-Day veterans as we pay tribute to all who served, fought and died to protect our freedom.”
See below for a complete list of the Museum’s D-Day 75 commemorative initiatives:
The National WWII Museum’s “Everything We Have” tells the personal stories of the people involved in Operation Overlord, in their own words, some for the first time. Based on the first-hand accounts held in the Museum’s archives, and illustrated with many never-before-seen documents and artifacts, “Everything We Have” offers a rare insight into the experiences of those soldiers, airmen and sailors who overwhelmed Hitler’s forces at the Normandy Coast.
The special exhibit of archival photography, artifacts and artwork examines the life and work of a French fine-art painter who fought Nazis on several battlegrounds, surviving hand-to-hand combat with the French Army at the onset of World War II, then the perils of Sword Beach with the Free French Commandos on June 6, 1944. Guy de Montlaur, who suffered multiple wounds in combat and carried shrapnel in his face for the rest of his life, channeled his wartime trauma into art, creating vivid abstract paintings until his death at age 58 in 1977.
The National WWII Museum will stream a live, interactive journey into D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in history and a turning point in World War II. Guided by student reporters, classrooms around the world will embark on a virtual transatlantic adventure to discover the lessons and legacies of Operation Overlord.
Aboard the Seabourn Ovation (May 29 – June 7, 2019) and Regent Seven Seas Navigator (May 30 – June 8, 2019), nearly 1,000 guests and WWII veterans will follow the path of Germany’s conquest of Western Europe and the Allied efforts to wrest control back from the Nazis in a path of liberation. This tour culminates at the French and American ceremony at Normandy American Cemetery. Led by best-selling authors, historians and expert battlefield guides, the travel tour will feature rich historical context directly from the Museum’s curators, as well as the institution’s digital collections.
The Museum will offer a slate of commemorative programs, including film screenings, panel discussions, hands-on activities for all ages, live performances and special tours of the Museum’s original exhibit The D-Day Invasion of Normandy. The official D-Day ceremony on June 6 will be extensive, kicking off at 6:30 a.m. with the H-Hour Ceremonies; special timed activities, as well as all-day educational lectures will follow. The day will conclude with a performance by the Museum’s Big Band and a special screening of “The Longest Day.”
The Museum has teamed with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to produce a new documentary, “Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière.” The mortal ferocity of the four-day battle – fought largely by paratroopers and glidermen from the 82nd Airborne Division – for control of the small stone bridge over the Merderet River at La Fière in Normandy is testament to the bridge’s strategic importance in the D-Day invasion. Without control of the bridge, American forces coming from Utah Beach would not have been able to force their way inland. Described as “probably the bloodiest small unit struggle in the experience of American arms,” over 250 Americans lost their lives.
The National WWII Museum 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 future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. The 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards ranks the Museum No. 3 in the nation and No. 8 in the world. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.
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