Do you know more about D-Day than a 4th grader?

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.

Men on a Boat

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.

Landing at Normandy

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.

American Troops in France following D-Day

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.

French child

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!

Anthony Eden and General Eisenhower

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.

D-Day Memorial

Photo credit:

58 thoughts on “Do you know more about D-Day than a 4th grader?

  1. I think it is not only the British or American Children that would struggle with this type questionnaire… I think it would be world wide… as youngsters our history at school was so different to the history taught today, and in a way one can understand this… to us the second WW was what our Dads went through so the history was closer to Vietnam and the middle east is where the children’s fathers are going…
    To today’s kids WW1 and WW2 are just one W short of their search and reading issues… good article

    1. Surely times have changed a lot in all areas, Rob. I think parents have a very big job in front of them just to raise their children to be responsible adults, and to be responsible for augmenting their education in really substantial time blocks is more than most can do. But I hear more and more “political talk” that people thrive on, without having any historical underpinnings for understanding context. That concerns me a lot. We aren’t always very good at remembering anything we don’t want to know. LOL! In the United States the Revolutionary War is traipsed out regularly as a means for defending specific political views, and that concluded in 1783. LOL! All knowledge tends to be selective, I guess. I will try not to be one of THOSE grandmothers–and let my grandchildren experience their own history. hahaha!

      1. I find that even the history being taught at schools now, lacks the depth that we had to learn… I often wondered what I gained by learning about the French revolution or the American war of independence.. when I lived in Rhodesia and had nothing to do with either country… but it did give us insight to the world… today kids seem to be taught selectively what the government wants them to learn about and the rest is just forgotten…

        1. Your followup comment about how history is taught fits well with my concern, Rob. I think we are all moving into “learning by sound bytes” for everything, and students, too, perhaps. Isolated pieces of history or story of any kind doesn’t give context, and I think that’s a loss to understanding. Truthfully, I wasn’t interested in history as a young person, but I have concern now. I probably would have done very poorly on any survey, that’s certain. 🙂

    1. I wouldn’t know them all either, Cathy! LOL! I’m not all that knowledgeable about the breadth of history, that’s for certain. But I stay tuned in. I think I’m afraid that too many people are actively trying to tune out! Coping with the stress of today is often enough for most people, and I can understand that. But we do need to know our historical contexts. Once we know the “why” behind some of our past, and our greatest errors, we can move forward with more freedom, I think. The teacher in me never seems to retire. 🙂

  2. I can help a little here Debra. Churchill is a UK insurance company and they use a CGI Bulldog to advertise their products for motorists. Their adverts have a touch of humor so they’re quite popular 🙂

    D-Day was very well documented in the film The Longest Day. It looks dated now, being black and white and lacking the horrific violence portrayed in Saving Private Ryan. But it is largely a historically correct film.

    There are many reasons why children may have fared poorly in the questionaire. One of these is that recent history has only recently been brought into the curriculum – WWII wasn’t mentioned in my history lessons when I was at school and I don’t remember much about WWI either.

    World War II is covered in the Primary School now, but the subject matter deals more closely with what it was like to be a child during the blitz and to be evacuated to the countryside. Details of key battles such as the invasion of Normandy are not mentioned – probably because at that age the children are not expected to understand tactics and strategies in a war sense. The one battle that is mentioned, because it is part of being a child at that time, is the Battle of Britain and the threat of invasion by the Nazi’s.

    Now, thereby hangs a tale – the British see it as a key victory whilst German historians have tended to view it as a battle that never was! Of course, both sides had different victory criteria as their young men fought at speeds often in excess of 300mph. The Germans needed to clear the skies of the RAF. All the RAF had to do was survive – something that might not have happened if Churchill had kept his promise to the French and sent another 5 Squadrons of fighters to France as Guderian was storming across the gallic countryside with his Panzers.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what bits of WWII are covered in the secondary school curriculum these days – only a few months to wait now before Alasdair starts at his new school 🙂

    1. I’m sure you’ll have a keen eye on what Alasdair’s curriculum covers, or leaves behind, Martin. And you’re prepared to amend any deficiencies, I’m sure. You have an excellent understanding of historical detail! I’m not all that good at calling up specifics, but I want to understand motivations and context. Leadership is interesting, too, and as you recount in mentioning Churchill–promises made and broken, and the implications that follow certain decisions. I find it all very interesting. I don’t have a thought that primary school children would necessarily know D-Day, but the survey went much older, too. It’s just interesting to me that as time moves forward of course memories fade, and I was curious about that. But I’m an example of “it’s never too late” as evidenced by my renewed interest in WW I. I didn’t care about it much at all–until I started watching Downton Abbey! Suddenly I had a whole host of new questions and that went off on a reading spree. So you never know what will spark an interest. 🙂 Thanks for clarifying about Churchill, the bulldog! I’ll have to see if I can find one of the advertisements on-line! Thank you for stopping by, Martin. As always, you have so much to share. I look forward to your comments.

      1. ps – I did have a look at the survey and could answer 90% of the questions without any problems but I have to say that question 10. Why did Britain fight the Second World War? Is not a ‘choose one of the following answers’ sort of question. The invasion of Poland may have precipitated the actual declaration of war but several of the other options need to be included to get a true picture. Way too complex a question for young adults and school children 😦

        One of my main historical interests has been the development of Radar and other forms of electronic warfare, so naturally the Battle of Britain gets my attention. If you ever want an example of the victors writing history, Radar is it. The Germans had Radar before the British and the US – the Graf Spee had a gun-laying Radar array that is clearly visible in the shots of her after she was scuttled by her Captain. At the time of the Battle of Britain the German Radar was technically superior to the British version – a fact that the Bruneval raid exposed. I’m waffling… Debra, I recommend the book Fighter by Len Deighton: Now viewed as being one of the definitive historical studies of the Battle of Britain. It’s an engaging read because of Deighton’s experience as a spy story writer but don’t let that put you off – it is very highly regarded by ‘serious’ historians.

        1. I wasn’t surprised to hear that you could answer the questions on the survey, Martin. I think you have very wide interests and a good mind for how the world works! Your analysis of the some of the questions not being particularly good questions in the first place, is probably very accurate. It would skew the results, too. Thank you for the book recommendation, Fighter. It really sounds like an excellent suggestion. Thank you! You’ve pointed me in some new directions, and I will follow through. I would love to have a lot more time for reading than I do, but I have stacks and stacks of books that sit there begging for my attention, and I do eventually get through them! I’ll add Deighton’s book to that pile! 🙂

    1. I really hope you’ll enjoy the history site as much as I do, Colleen. None of us has a huge amount of time to read and certainly not to really study large swaths of information, but these are easily digestible and I think would eventually give a person a whole new perspective on a variety of historical topics and contexts. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  3. Julia Jackson (aka Helva)

    I have vivid memories of being in the South of England (the New Forest – near Southampton) throughout WWII – my Father, who had been in WWI, being too old to be called up, was Deputy Head of a boys grammar school that was evacuated from Portsmouth en masse, and Mother & I, of course, went as well. In the weeks leading up to D-Day the whole of the area was ‘invaded’ by troops – every road was lined with military vehicles, and all the open spaces were covered in tents and all the associated paraphenalia needed to provide for all tne needs of the men. As a small girl (I was 11 months old when the war started), all this was very exciting, and I had a lot of new playmates, as I used to escape to the mess tent at the bottom of our road and talk to the chaps there! (No-one in those days has any thoughts of young children being abused or murdered – and anyway the soldiers were family men themselves and missing their loved ones). I even was given a ride in a 10-ton truck, and an amphibious jeep (a DUKW, I think was the technical name – always known as a ‘Duck’)! When they all disappeared overnight before June 6th I was bereft – and have wondered ever since how many of them survived.
    Another story – my grandparents lived on the Isle of Wight, just 4 miles across the strip of water opposite Portsmouth Harbour, which was a prime target for the Germans with it’s major Naval Dockyard. My grandfather told us that before D-Day there were so many ships in the Solent (that strip of water) that he reckoned he could have crossed to Portsmouth with dry feet by jumping from one ship to the next, and he never understood how it was that the Germans never noticed the build up of military and Naval equipment and men. He said it was a miracle – prior to that there were air raids almost every day, but there were no signs of the Luftwaffe all over the weeks before D-Day.

    1. What an interesting perspective you bring, Helva, and I imagine you have even more memories and stories to tell.
      I’ve ridden on a “Duck”. Somehow, a large number of the jeeps made it to Wisconsin and an entrepreneur who made them a part of a water attraction at the Wisconsin Dells, where one can ride on land and in the water on a tour of the Dells, an area carved out of the land by glaciers eons ago.

    2. Helva, this is just fascinating! No amount of reading in books substitutes for hearing the stories directly from someone with a vivid memory! I loved hearing your childhood memories. I grew up watching newsreels and documentaries of that time in history. I can still vividly recall some of those black and white images, and even from the time I was quite young I was fascinated with the stories of the Allied Troops engaging with the people who lived in the cities and small towns in Europe. You give such an interesting perspective remembering feeling “bereft” when the troops left your town. And your grandfather’s recollection of the ships gathering in the Naval Dockyard prior to D-Day gives me great pause. Perhaps that really was a miracle they weren’t taken as a serious sign of impending action! Thank you so much for commenting today. Your memories are just fascinating to me. Americans understood the cost in casualties and experienced rationing and the collective response to a huge war effort, but the war was conducted “elsewhere” and that alone probably accounts for a little less awareness as time goes on. I am so glad you chose to stop by and share. Thank you!

    3. Julia, the Germans knew and worked out the date themselves because of the tides. . What they were not sure about was the location of the landing. The Luftwaffe did not have enough planes to bomb the areas with the build-ups. The weather forecast was for bad weather so Rommel decided the Allies won’t come and he went home for his wife’s birthday. It would have been another four weeks. But Eisenhower did not want to take the risk.

  4. I think they might know more in France: the French commemorate D-Day every year.

    It is sad that children don’t know but, then again, how long should it be before we forget what divided us and focus on what unites us? Much more important. I’m glad, for instance, that the American Civil War is not taught in British schools. Not for the embarrassment of losing the colonies 🙂 but because we are friends and allies.

    BTW, we make sure our boys know this stuff. A sense of history and the sacrifices made for us is important. But we have to move on or we’ll keep fighting the same wars.

    1. I do agree with you, Tilly, about focusing on what unites us. But that’s the beauty of taking “where we’ve been” and putting it in the light of “where are we now.” I think that once a war is over people have an amazing ability to move on an embrace each other, putting aside the conflict of the past.

      But I think I am mostly concerned that we go forward without knowing context. Life isn’t a series of disconnected events. I don’t reasonably have an expectation that everyone hold onto the detailed accounts of anything that goes back more than 50 years. Maybe even less. Context is huge for me…so that’s what fuels my interest, I suppose. 🙂 I’m certainly not expecting too much. I’m very much a realist! I’m glad you teach your boys to value this lessons we can all learn from the past, and then yes, as you said so well, go forward with appreciation for the things that unite us. Well said!

  5. I guess it depends on where you were born, what you studied in school, and I am sure this day is more important to the children of France than to American and British kids. Today is also the National Day of Sweden, commemorating the election in 1523 of King Gustav Vasa, who liberated us from the tyranny of a Danish king. No one, except Swedish and maybe other Nordic children, know about that. Wars, like everything else, have a way of fading into history, their important dates forgotten.

    1. I certainly agree with you about World History being selectively understood. I wouldn’t have any context for having been taught Nordic history in school, but when I read about British history I often encounter interesting facts about the lineage of monarchs and realize how interconnected we all are–if we go back far enough! When I was a child WW 2 wasn’t in such a distant past, and we were taught about the American, British and Canadian troops, thousands and thousands of them, who lost their lives liberating France. That was a big deal. Certainly as time moves forward there are more current wars and debates and issues to understand. And teachers can’t cover it all. I hope that we don’t lose context, however, due to apathy. Time will tell, I suppose. I do know that I’m loving this website and reading all sorts of interesting things. I’ll probably end up boring my grandchildren at some point. 🙂 Thank you, Inger. And I am really glad to know about the National Day of Sweden…true to my word, at some point today I will undoubtedly look it up! I’m curious now. ox

  6. Very provocative post, Debra.
    We didn’t study WWII (or WWI) until high school in these parts mid-20th century, though the times have always interested me. Like most states, one year was devoted to state history (Illinois for me) in elementary school. I had a fabulous high school US history teacher who spent a good deal of time on WWII. Still, not all that much was studied about D-Day – and then, our parents didn’t speak much about the war, especially the men.
    Our Jennifer attended a benefit for vets Memorial Day weekend where she interviewed vets for some sort of documentary. One of the men, now 90, had been part of the invasion and gave her a touching testimony that had a big impact on her. 69 years later and he remembered vividly the horror he saw.
    I hope, in time, our children and grandchildren come to learn about the past, including the war. I worry, though, that they are not even learning about the present. I’ve long, long fought against and fretted over the amount of testing we are doing, fearing we have created a generation of children who know how to take tests, but, not how to seek knowledge. It was my teachers, and, I suspect, yours, who gave us enough subject matter to want to learn more as we went on through life.

    1. What a privilege for Jennifer to have that opportunity to hear about the war and specifically Normandy–directly from a Veteran! I am riveted to the documentaries that I’ve seen where the day is remembered from the viewpoint of those that served. I am sure the living memories of that invasion are few now.

      I didn’t have any “real” interest in what I learned about either World Wars in high school. I think my interest came over me slowly with time, but also within the context of a family that directly exposed me to conversation, and television documentaries etc. Obviously, some of that was being a “Baby Boomer” and the war wasn’t in the distant past at that point. I think it concerns me that if the adults aren’t interested, why would their children. I’m generalizing, of course, but you’ve probably seen Jay Leno’s bit when he walks in the crowds and asks people to answer questions about history–and when they can’t answer the relevance of July 4th, I do cringe!
      I’m concerned, too, about the testing and curriculum issues. I think parents today have an even greater need to be co-educators with their child’s teachers. Otherwise a great deal of context is going to go unaddressed. There is a lot of competition today for what we’re going to find either interesting or important. Sometimes I just wonder about these things! 🙂 Wondering takes up a lot of my time. LOL! Thanks for your thoughts, Penny. I really enjoy your perspective on education.

  7. Did you know that 160,000 men went ashore and 12,000 never again saw the light of day – oops I’m an American, better not show that I am informed, I might give you the idea that I was educated elsewhere.

    1. The statistics associated with D-Day are overwhelming. I think that’s why it feels sad to me when I hear that the recognition of what it cost in lives may be fading. I certainly know there are many people with a much better grasp of historical contexts than I have, but I also know far too many people for whom there is no interest at all. I think, too, that I wouldn’t blame all disinterest in history on the American educational system. After all, there’s a lot of competition. Hmmm. Keeping up with the Kardashian’s? LOL! We are funny people! We all have to cope somehow. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by. I am glad to meet someone for whom the significance of D-Day isn’t ho-hum!

  8. Debra, you are so right in your observations. I just finished Unbroken, the book about Louis Zamperini, a WWII POW survivor. It gave me good fodder for a conversation I recently had with a child about war.

    1. I loved that book, Andra. It really is eye opening, isn’t it? He is such an amazing man. He comes from Southern California and in Torrance, there are streets named after him and “Zamparini Field,” a small airport. I hope sometime you’ll check out the website. It’s such a fabulously accessible resource! 🙂

  9. With technology ever-expanding, school curricula are constantly changing as more and more information is shifted to lower grades in an effort to prepare our kids for the “real world.” Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day and the information is condensed, and even dropped, as it is moved to an earlier grade. The Civil War, WWI, and now WW2 are at least taught, no matter how condensed. What do any of us know of the War of 1812? The French and Indian War? This is what upsets me most when religious groups succeed in getting theology-based concepts taught as fact in our public schools. With so much being dropped because of, basically, a lack of time, it’s ludicrous that time be found to teach that creationism, for example, is as valid a “theory” as evolution. I’m not against faith-based education but that’s what our places of worship are for.

    1. I really do agree with you about theology-based curriculum aims being a responsibility of the church, not the public education system, John. I think young families have a huge responsibility amending and fortifying the education of their children today. We can’t rely on the school system, that’s for certain in my mind. I don’t expect children today to be taught about the World Wars with explicit detail. I don’t have a grasp of the explicit details on such a huge swath of history either. But I think I picked up a lot of my information and knowledge, and maybe even interest, peripherally from the context of a family that paid attention to such things. Discussion and even media back in the “dark ages.” I don’t think the interest is there for a lot of people today to understand context. I think the original question for me was when would D-Day have absolutely little or no name recognition. Anyway, this history website is fantastic, and I plan to spend time with it as often as I can! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  10. Those men will never be forgotten – just the way they are remembered changes Debra. School kids aren’t interested in most things unless they have direct experience (plus we weren’t taught about the Wars at school) – when they get older their perspective changes. I don’t know what it is like in the States but there has been a huge upsurge in interest over WW1. WW2 will not be far behind as these old lads and lasses slowly pass on. Great post.

    1. Yes, there is an upsurge of interest in WW I. You know what I think it’s been the U.S.? Strangely, Downton Abbey! I mean it. It has been wildly popular over here, and for many of us, topics of the Great War weren’t a part of any of our reading interests. All of a sudden there is a noticeable interest, including all the refocus on Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” I know that both World Wars are ancient history to school children, and I don’t have an expectation that the schools can cover it all. I do think, though, that if adults lose an interest it’s a shame. On the other hand, I suppose, look at what I just admitted about Downton Abbey giving me more interest in a turn of the last century war! To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of expectation that D-Day meant a lot to people under a certain age–but I didn’t know what that age was. That was my curiosity, I suppose. And I still think the British educational experience is generally stronger than here in California. Some states have an excellent educational record, but CA is abysmal. We are much more interested in what children eat. I’ll stop now…I feel a harangue coming on! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate the perspective you have to offer!

      1. Thanks Debra – Downton is huge over here to – I don’t know why – it is truly woeful – but I have to watch it, normally agog at the plot lines, wooden acting and remarkable script. My favourite was in the Xmas special when Mary gave birth and her hubby (i’ve forgotten his name already) tells her that “people are panting to see you” – what on earth does that mean? Still Ma Fightback, Tomcat Fightback and I couldn’t miss such drivel!

  11. This must go on with all generations overtime. We grew up in post WW II era, but farther removed from WW I. Think of this – we really weren’t far removed from the Civil War. After all, the elders when we were kids knew people who fought in that war. Maybe all this means that there is a reason history repeats itself. After all, do people really take notice of the past?

    1. Good point about history repeating itself. That’s an interesting thought. Also so true about the Civil War. In the late 80s I attended a family reunion in Mississippi and met a family member who was 98 or 99–and her father had fought in the Civil War. It brought it home to me how relatively recent that era had been, yet I surely couldn’t converse in detail about that war. I love the website Amazing Stories, though, and find it spurs my interest even further. I wonder if I’d have enjoyed it as a child. I don’t know!

  12. It’s so important that our history is taught in schools. Sadly, it seems to be taking a back seat to new important political issues like global warming, speaking Mandarin, ethics classes etc. I’m finding that too many students in Australia are graduating with so much ignorance in areas that were singled out as being of the highest importance when I was at school xx

    1. Your thoughts, Charlie, completely mirror mine when it comes to what is prioritized in education today. I think political agendas have in some ways replaced understanding history. I think parents today have a lot of extra pressure I didn’t have when my children were young. Curriculums were a lot more basic. My kids didn’t even have computers until middle school, so that gives you a sense of the relative simplicity! I don’t want to be one of those people who sounds like they think everything was “better back then”–I don’t really believe that. I think we all need to stay as tuned in as we can, and that’s probably the best defense against ignorance. The world is changing so rapidly we do need to pay attention, and sometimes knowing historical contexts can help us even with current political issues. I think I like history more than politics–a lot more! 🙂

  13. I have a love of history, and am learning it at school, so this post spoke out to me! I agree, it is seen in such a low light when we come from it – I wish it was expanded and promoted more 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. I am so glad to hear from you and get your perspective, Uru, and I’m so glad you feel a responsibility to understand history in context. I don’t have strong expectations that today’s young people have detailed knowledge of the World Wars, except to understand the world stage at that time. I can imagine that your curriculum is very, very different from what I grew up with. The whole world has changed in the last twenty years. With the way the world seems to be getting smaller, I wonder if my concerns about “history lessons” are a bit unfounded. Travel and opportunity to know other countries will perhaps broaden all of our interests over time. I hope so. Thank you, as always, for stopping by, my friend.

  14. Gosh, I wonder if I’d recognize Eisenhower. I know who he was and a bit about his presidency, but recognize him in a photo. Hmm. I wonder. Thank you for the kids’ site. Mr. N loves history so that will be great!

    1. You made me smile, Kristy. One of the photos on the page was General Eisenhower. LOL! I didn’t want to make anyone feel self-conscious about their “age” and what they knew, so no worries there! I was mostly curious and wondering at what age did cultural references shift. More or less, at what point does something become so far back in history from what we have experienced, that we don’t relate to it. An example would be in myself. I am a “baby boomer” raised with a lot of awareness of WWII because my parents lived through it and had stories and reference. But I didn’t have any real interest in WW1, and my grandparents lived through that. The history site is just wonderful for both children and adults. I plan to go there frequently and see what I can learn. I have a weakness in chronological world history. I know events, but not the order of them. Now you can go and take a look at Eisenhower. (Why you need to know what he looked like, I have no answer for. LOL!)

  15. I loved the survey, Debra. I had a little chuckle at Nick Clegg and David Miliband being at the bottom of the list of recognisable people in the survey.

    I think the human mind tends to zone in on what is important for it at the time. If it sees an issue as relevant, it will retain information on it. I can reveal that all primary school age children are taught a module on the second world war in Britain. They dress up as evacuees, visit wartime haunts, learn the songs, the whole shebang. But what this survey shows is that it is as far away from being relevant to them as a diamond tiara to a D-Day squaddie.

    Stories are such a powerful way to make these things relevant again and I love the site you have found.I have visited Dover Castle, where the D Day landings were masterminded, and it stil pervades the air in the cliff tunnels where they worked and collected intelligence. Eerie place, such a strange chapter in our history. And Admiral Ramsay – or his statue – still stands out on the cliff looking aross the channel as he must have done so many times.

    Wonderful post. Thank you so much.

    1. I love your description of Dover Castle and the the area surrounding, Kate. I would really love to just absorb some of the feeling that I can imagine lingers still! I am so glad you took a look at the Amazing Stories site. I’m thrilled with it. You’re so right about story being a powerful and positive way to refresh memories and perhaps even instill an interest in history from one era or another. I have collated data from surveys and evaluations administered to college students where I wondered if the answers were intended to be more provocative than honest, and we don’t know much about the way this particular survey was conducted. The range in age was vast, too, which to me, muddled the impact of the results. I can honestly say I would just love to see the school children in their costumes and musical reenactments. I am sure they learned plenty! I’m going to tell myself they just didn’t like the survey. 🙂

  16. I’ve been to the beaches of Normandy and the cemetery…something I will never forget. What I noticed is all the French families there with their children…explaining what had happened.

    1. I would really love to visit Normandy one day, Karen. That is on my list of places I’d like to see. It is wonderful to hear that you saw French families at the cemetery. That gives me a lovely picture to contemplate. Thank you! 🙂

  17. Oh, this is a very heated discussion, Deb.. your article is very insightful and thought provoking. From a teacher’s perspective (albeit, quite some time ago) it did seem that we covered these subjects in detail. As a parent we spent time going through museums to augment what was taught in school. I really think it’s an ongoing subject, especially with events happening around the world today.. xx

    1. I think I may have touched a few nerves with my comments about whether or not people are generally interested in maintaining an interest in history, Barb. I was really surprised at some of the comments, and I wish we could all sit around and have a deeper conversation! 🙂 I really don’t expect young people today to be well versed in WW II history. I was mostly interested in wondering at what age references to historical terms and contexts no longer “ring a bell” in their memory. I also don’t criticize educators in this area, except knowing that they can only delve so deep and then it is up to individual families to strengthen their children’s knowledge. History is yesterday, so in that sense, we are always moving forward. I do think understanding context is important. The site I recommended is really excellent and I intend to go to it frequently to increase my recall! I am not always good with chronology! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your own thoughts on this topic. I may stick with sharing flowers and birds for a while. LOL!

  18. From my experience the average French school-child in Normandy probably knows more about D-Day that the average Briton or American under 60, Debra. 🙂 Every summer our local French newspaper reports on the official commemorations of the liberation in towns and villages throughout our bit of Normandy, at which wreaths are laid and salutes given, and the period is certainly still taught in schools. There are many monuments and museums dedicated to the Second World War and especially the liberation and elderly French veterans and those who remember the occupation still go into schools to talk to the children, though their numbers are rapidly decreasing.

    i feel strongly that the history of the two world wars should continue to be taught, lest we forget……

    1. Thank you for adding to the D-Day discussion, Perpetua. It is really excellent to hear the French are intentional in educating the school children about the meaning and impact of D-Day. Such a lengthy passage of time is bound to diminish overall memory, of course, and with the loss of living witnesses we know that more recent history is going to be central to a young person’s education, but I do hope this one event will remain a part of our collective memory. I think an outcome of getting older is probably a deeper appreciation for history–I can’t say that as a younger person I felt quite as strong about these matters, but I do now. I would love to visit Normandy one day!

  19. Last summer while driving from California to KCMO I stopped in Abilene, KS to tour the Eisenhower home and library. Every bit of the detail of that era is brought to life here. For those of us old enough to remember Eisenhower, this library will have so much meaning. I’ve also been to the Truman home and library in Independence, MO. Same deal there. Such important history comes to life. It would be wonderful if the libraries could be picked up and moved around the country so all could see.

    1. It’s interesting you mentioned the Presidential Libraries, because I was just thinking the same thing this week! I have only been to a couple, and even the Nixon Library, very near me in SoCal, has excellent exhibits and we go very rarely. There is one right now on POWs that I’m hoping to see. And I’ve never yet been to the Reagan Library. So you’re right about them being fantastic repositories of so much history. I must also say that I would love to take a road trip like you mentioned. What an excellent opportunity to see so much!

  20. Ok, my son is just finishing up kindergarten, but I supplement his history lessons by reading to him from The Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer. By reading and re-reading this series, working through the activities in the associated books, and creating a timeline to give a visual understanding of how it all fits together, I hope my son will come out years from now with a solid understanding of history, from the earliest civilizations through the end of the USSR.

    1. It sounds like you have a wonderful plan for engaging your son in knowing history. I don’t often hear of such a good teaching strategy for a child your son’s age. I am eager to check out the Susan Wise Bauer series. It might be something I can share with the girls. 🙂

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  22. Similar to how D-Day is fading from our memories and “PC” history textbooks, people are forgetting there were TWO speeches given by President Reagan at Omaha Beach. It was 1984.

    His first and better known speech was given at Pointe du Hoc in front of Ranger veterans…. But… In my humble opinion, his SECOND speech at the American Cemetery overlooking the beaches was much more powerful. He reads a letter from the daughter of the soldier who was in the first wave and survived: Private Zanatta. In this shortened version, the unflappable President Reagan himself is overcome with emotion while reading the daughter’s letter:

    Just get past the Patton stuff; you will need Kleenex. (I hope the link works…)

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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