June 6 marks the 69th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France as the Allied troops landed along a heavily fortified coastline to liberate France from Nazi Germany.
I started thinking seriously about what facts I thought I knew about D-Day as I listened to two radio commentators, just about my age, wondering how long it would be before remembering June 6 as a special day would fade into obscurity. Did young people today–and they didn’t say how young–know anything about D-Day?
That thought stayed with me today and I decided to see what I could find to possibly answer that question.
I found the results from a British survey of 1,000 children aged 11 to 18. I must admit that in the interest of time I have rather hurriedly reviewed the results and some of the cultural references used in the survey questions will probably not be familiar to all Americans. I will link to the survey HERE if you are interested in checking it out in more detail. You might want to see if you could answer the questions.
Here is a small sample of the survey results.
- Only 1/5 of the children had some idea of what happened on D-Day. Most thought it was the day the war ended.
- I’m afraid I don’t know about Churchill the insurance dog, but 92% of the children could identify the mutt, but only 62% could identify a photo of Winston Churchill.
- Nearly a third were unable to give an explanation of why Britain had fought the Second World War.
Believe me, my British friends. I am not in any way critical of the young students. I am sadly confident that American students in the same age group would have fared even more poorly in answering questions related to D-Day and other primary aspects of World War II.
Worse yet, I fear that most Americans under 60 would have a difficult time with this survey. Thank you Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks for at least giving us an epic movie providing us some graphic images of the horrors on Omaha Beach. Personally I could hardly make it through those first 20 minutes, but I’ll never forget it. I think that was the point.
I could load you with some powerful facts and interesting data related to D-Day that would send sober shivers up your spine, but you can do your own research as you feel you need to.
I’d rather give you a resource you might not know.
If you love history, you must take some time to familiarize yourself with Awesome Stories. I’ve linked to the Invasion of Normandy page, but please do spend some time with all aspects of this site. It’s a goldmine–a veritable treasure trove of stories, links, photos, and videos, covering topics ranging from sports to world history to major disasters and so much more–for children!
Don’t be put off by the idea that it’s designed for school children. Teacher/student materials can be the best learning tools. This site is perfect for sitting down and just reading a little at a time.
Do yourself a favor and spend time today really considering the historical impact of what was accomplished on the beaches at Normandy.
Before the invasion began, General Eisenhower said to the troops, “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…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.”
Now I want to conduct a poll to see if high school students recognize President Eisenhower.
Photo credit: http://www.historylink101.com
- Lest we forget: The Normandy campaign 69 years on (independent.co.uk)
- Day to remember: Veteran keeps alive D-Day memories (news-journalonline.com)