Normandy, France, is filled with beautiful beaches and small, bustling towns. Seventy-six years ago, however, a different scene would be witnessed. World War II was in full rage. France was under Nazi Germany’s suppressing occupation. Its grip on Europe was strong, relentless, and seemed almost impossible to break. It would take an assault unlike any the world had seen in order to penetrate their defenses, weaken the German forces, and liberate the French nation. And that assault is exactly what would come on June 6, 1944. D-Day would begin the downfall to the tyrannical European oppression of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party, and become a defining moment of the 21st century.
In June 2019, The Mariners’ Museum and Park commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It was a huge success. More than 1,100 visitors came to the Museum to hear about the actions that took place. It was an emotional day as visitors shared personal stories or stories about their loved ones who had served that day. We brought out several images and objects from our Collection. We created a hand-drawn and painted 14’ x 20’ map showing the shores of Normandy and the five beaches of the assault – Gold, Juno, Sword, Omaha, and Utah. We labeled pieces of the different Allied Forces divisions and moved them throughout the map to show the scale of the assault and the amount of area that needed to be captured. Lyles Forbes, Vice President and Chief Curator has had the opportunity to visit Normandy. He created several pictures, many seen in this post, that blend images from present day scenes and photos from the past, so that visitors could see a correlation of what the places look like today versus when the invasion was taking place.