D-Day History Not Well Known To Students

D-Day History Not Well Known To Students

D-Day History Not Well Known To Students

June 6, 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne operation in military history. The Allied military operation on the beaches of Normandy, France was the event that turned the tide in the war against Nazi oppression. We live in a world free of the Nazi genocide because of the massive operation and should never forget the brave souls who lost their lives that day. Sadly, many students of the world will never forget because they never knew, in the first place.

In advance of this important anniversary, the APNews.com has a featured article titled, “D-Day’s 75th anniversary renews interest in some classrooms”. Although the article strikes a semi-hopeful note, for me, it brought even more clarity to the serious problems in public education. These are the opening paragraphs of the article:

Kasey Turcol has just 75 minutes to explain to her high school students the importance of D-Day — and if this wasn’t the 75th anniversary of the turning point in World War II, she wouldn’t devote that much time to it. D-Day is not part of the required curriculum in North Carolina — or in many other states.

Turcol reminds her students at Crossroads FLEX High School in Cary, North Carolina, that D-Day was an Allied victory that saved Europe from Nazi tyranny and that the young men who fought and died were barely older than they are. She sprinkles her lesson with details about the number of men, ships, and planes involved in the landing at Normandy while adding a few lesser-known facts about a Spanish spy and a deadly military practice conducted six months earlier in England.

The teacher takes 75 minutes to tell about D-Day – “and if this wasn’t the 75th anniversary of the turning point in World War II, she wouldn’t devote that much time to it.” I know exactly what you are thinking. I am thinking the very same thing. Good old Edmund Burke must be quoted here: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Yes, these poor children are doomed. American college students have no idea who we fought in the American Revolution or why, cannot identify what century the Civil War was fought in or why and don’t even ask them about world history. They have never heard of the Armenian Genocide or Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, in which millions starved to death.

It’s not the kids fault. I don’t blame the poor, ignorant children for a nanosecond. I don’t blame the public schools either. Public schools were never meant to produce a well-rounded and educated citizen. While Horace Mann may be the hero of the public school system, to me, he is the villain who created the human drone.

The result is that today’s children know all about Man-made Climate Change, but have never heard of World War II, let alone D-Day. Read these paragraphs from the APNews article and weep:

In the U.S., teaching about World War II varies from state to state. It’s often up to the teachers to decide how much time they want to give to individual battles like D-Day.

California’s History-Social Science Framework , adopted in 2016, includes for sophomores an expansive unit on World War II that includes how the conflict was “a total war,” the goals of the Allied and Axis Powers and how the fighting was fought on different fronts. The unit also includes a section on the Holocaust.

Up to the teachers to decide “how much time they want to give to individual battles like D-Day”? D-Day was the day the battle began on. D-Day was three and a half weeks long. D-Day changed the momentum of the war.

Maybe it’s just the article’s author’s wording, but it makes it seem like the Holocaust is an afterthought, in my opinion. Eleven million people are not an afterthought.

And, we, America won the war. Our Allies helped. Until we showed up, they were losing and country after country was getting rolled over by the Nazi War Machine. Individuals filled with grit and determination, who never heard of a participation trophy (and, wouldn’t take one if it were offered) won the war, inch by inch on the beaches of Normandy.

Last night, actor Sam Elliot gave voice to story of medic Sergeant Ray Lambert on D-Day:

Sgt. Ray Lambert had one D-Day story and there are millions more recorded for the history that is no longer taught. The schools won’t teach our children our history. There is no time for it. Our history is too colonialist, imperialist, racist, Western, whatever for the thin blood of our elites.

Please teach your children about D-Day and all of the rest of our history, good or bad. Don’t doom your children.

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Photo Credit: U.S. Army Pathfinders/This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

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10 Comments
  • GWB says:

    Why are there duplicate lines in that first blockquote? (First phrase, and last sentence of each paragraph.)

    it makes it seem like the Holocaust is an afterthought
    Hate to say it, but in many ways, it was. Most of America didn’t know about the death camps until we liberated one. Heck, even a lot of continental Europe refused to see it. Ending the Holocaust (or the Japanese death camps) was never a goal of the Allies, because we didn’t really have much of a clue until we got there.

    We went there to destroy the NAZI regime and to liberate Europe. Ending the Holocaust was just part of the package.

    Part of the problem is that the longer history goes on, the more of it there is to tell. So, older events get compressed to the essentials or distilled to a few stories. What I learned about the Civil War was less than what those 50 years before me learned.What I learned about the Revolution and the French-Indian Wars is less than what those at the time of the Civil War knew, most likely. It’s the way of the world.

    But, we need those moments of drama. It has to be more than recitations of facts and dates. As Sarah Hoyt says, we’re creatures of story. So, we need to maintain certain bits and pieces to remind our posterity of just what was accomplished. And what was lost.

    If you still have kids you can influence, I would suggest some books and films. Read Burggett’s books about becoming and fighting as a Screaming Eagle. Watch Big Red One, The Longest Day, Midway, even Casablanca. Find the stories and repeat them with/to your children.

    Treat this day as a day to not just barbecue and hit the beach. Remember. REMEMBER.

  • Scott says:

    I’d add “To Hell and Back” GWB, but otherwise spot on Toni and GWB

    • GWB says:

      Oh yes! Another good one!
      And I would in no way claim that short little list is complete. It’s merely four that popped into my head and weren’t… goofy (like Dirty Dozen).

  • Bill Cook says:

    I challenge anyone to watch the Elliot video and keep a dry eye throughout.

  • Chris Harper says:

    Sigh.
    I have sympathy for your position, but chock full of errors.

    The Normandy landings were not the turning point of the war. The British won no significant battle prior to el Alamein in, take note of the date, October 1942, and lost no significant battle following that victory.

    By D-Day the German advance in the east had been halted at Stalingrad, and in the west the allies had taken north Africa, Sicily and were advancing through Italy. D-Day was an operation designed to put further pressure on a Germany which was already reduced to being on the defensive on the already existing fronts.

    • GWB says:

      And you can argue history ’till you’re blue in the face. At least she knows more about it than a lot of folks.

      But, you are partly right. D-Day was not THE day when the war turned. It was however, the point when significant amounts of war material and combat manpower could be put on the continent in a place that would allow rolling back Germany to inside its own borders.
      (And, no, coming up through Italy would not have worked very well, and would have cost a lot more lives. The terrain is awful.)

      It’s possible the Soviet Union could have done the job by itself (well, except for all the material we were sending them that helped them win their side of the war). But, then we would have ended up with all of continental Europe under the Communist thumb (and some people in our national command structures actually understood that and pushed for invasion to stop that very eventuality).

      So, we can debate this. (I find it fun.) But at least we CAN debate it, because we both know something about the situation – unlike a lot of kids who don’t even know what “D-Day” means.

      • Jack Van Nostrand says:

        Also take note of June 4th to 6th 1942, the Battle of Midway, when Japan was put on the defensive.

        Jack

  • Mike says:

    I can only half-agree with you.

    I’m 45 and in all my formal education I don’t think I got a total of 75 minutes on D-Day. My older relatives who were in the war would occasionally mention it. But my parents and their generation seemed not to know much, and what they did know was a simplistic, 30-second summary. I do not presume that education in the 60’s or 70’s was very good on this subject.

    But despite my near total ignorance of the subject, as an adult I became quite fascinated with D-Day history. I read many books, made many like-minded friends, and spent time with a good number of D-Day vets. And now I’m amazed (and overwhelmed) at the amount of incredible history now available to anyone willing to spend an evening on the internet looking for it. The stories of D-Day have never been more available.

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