It doesn’t take a lengthy conversation with today’s youth to discover that they really don’t know much about the world’s history. We are so busy sharing images of cats on social media and texting our friends that we often neglect to connect with our children in meaningful ways. Now, we are faced with a generation of children who may not know much about our pasts and, considering the impact some events have had, we need to make sure we give them that knowledge.
World War II was filled with bloodshed and unimaginable horrors with the most troubling stories stemming from the activities of German leader, Adolf Hitler. June 6th, also known as D-Day, is an important day from that time in global history. Of course, it will be up to you to decide how much or how little to share with your children depending on their age and maturity level but, considering the fact that there are survivors walking the earth to this day, taking time a small amount of time out of your day to let them know the date’s significance is both respectful and informative.
Here’s a quick overview of the events to help you plan a conversation with your family.
So many of us know the term but how much do you really know about D-Day? On June 6, 1944, Britain, America, Canada and France, also known as the Allied Forces, banded together to push back against the German troops on the coast of Normandy, France. The Allies, bolstered by their 150,000 soldiers, were triumphant and forced a major turning point in the war. For this reason, it is sometimes called the Invasion of Normandy.
After Germany invaded France, they quickly turned to their eyes towards the rest of Europe. Fortunately, Britain and the United States were able to slow them down, making it easy for them to try an attack.
With Allied soldiers and equipment stockpiled in Britain, they increased the air strikes and bombs over German territory. Naturally, the Germans sensed that an invasion was coming but they had no idea where they would target. Using this to their advantage, the Allies used deceptive tactics to make it look as though they were heading to Pas de Calais, which is north of Normandy, and, fortunately, the Germans believed it.
Can’t Fight (Without) The Moonlight
The weather was so atrocious that D-Day was almost cancelled. It would have been a terrible turn of events since they had been planning the invasion for months. One thing that had to be considered was the fact that the troops needed the light from a full moon in order to see during the attack which meant they had only a small window of opportunity. Realizing this, General Dwight D. Eisenhower agreed to go ahead with the operation despite the bad weather. This may have worked to their advantage since the Germans did not expect them to attack in such adverse conditions and were less prepared.
The first men who went to Normandy jumped out of planes using parachutes and landed on the dark shores of a foreign country behind enemy lines. These paratroopers were tasked with capturing bridges and destroying key targets before the ships arrived. To reduce the number of soldiers lost, thousands of dummies were also dropped in order to confuse the Germans.
As bombs rained from the sky, warships began assaulting the beaches from at sea. At the same time, German telephone lines and railroads were dismantled by the French Resistance. An incredible force of more than 6,000 ships approached the beaches of Normandy with American troops landing at the Omaha and Utah beaches. The conditions at Omaha was highly contentious and many soldiers lost their lives before they were able to take the beach.
By June 17th, more than half a million Allied troops had pushed their way inland and were able to begin forcing the Germans out of France, saving countless lives and ending the war.
Giving your children an overview of the events that took place on this highly historic day is a great way to emphasize the power of teamwork as well as some of the underlying principles of discrimination and bullying. Forces from several countries were able to come together to defeat a shared threat and we all can do the same, on a much smaller scale, are we face adversity in our daily lives.
Picture Source: National Archives