NEW ORLEANS (May 23, 2014) — The National WWII Museum commemorates the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in France and in New Orleans with the help of the men who took part in the historic invasion on June 6, 1944.
In Normandy, a Museum delegation will escort ten veterans to the international observations on Friday, June 6. Back home on the Museum’s New Orleans campus, D-Day veterans will assemble for a series of events both on that day and Saturday, June 7. Friends and family, civilians and service men and women will get a chance to say “thank you” for the veterans’ fight to preserve freedom.
“This anniversary carries immense meaning for these men, as it does for all who recognize the importance of what they did,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, President and CEO of The National WWII Museum. “Very few will be with us still at the 80th anniversary. One of the Museum’s most important missions is to honor these vets while they are still with us, and we are so proud to be able to do that in both Normandy and New Orleans this year.”
Veterans in Normandy will return to the sites where they fought on that day and the days following the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, one of history’s most important pivot points. Also among the group will be historians and authors Tom Brokaw, Rick Atkinson, Don Miller, Rob Citino and other special guests.
“If we had been thrown back into the sea you’d be living a different life,” said veteran Cosmo Uttero, who fought with the 29th Infantry Division and landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He will return to the site for the first time since the invasion for the 70th anniversary. “I think about five years from now, and you’re probably going to have to read about what happened to us — you won’t be able to hear from someone who was there.”
In New Orleans, the June 6 observations begin at 6:30 am, the approximate time of the invasion in Europe seven decades earlier. An emotional “H-Hour” ceremony will honor the first waves of men to hit the beaches. The Museum’s main D-Day ceremony will be held at 10:30 am.
Of the invasion, D-Day veteran Lampton Terrell, a staff sergeant with the 1st Engineer Special Brigade who landed on Utah Beach, recalls, “D-Day was quite an occasion — it was about our own freedom, but equally important, it was about defeating the Germans and freeing France. It was an operation that was never seen before in the history of the world.” Terrell will participate in a panel of D-Day veterans at the Museum on June 6.
In addition to the morning ceremonies marking the anniversary, throughout the day there will be panels, performances and recognition in honor of the service and sacrifice that occurred in France. The Museum programming stretches into the night with a free 7:00 pm outdoor screening of the first two episodes of the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Other highlights open to the public include:
- A panel discussion by D-Day veterans who will share their first-hand recollections of what it was like experience that fateful day.
- Museum historians and curators will conduct specially recreated D-Day briefings. They will report on the action at Normandy throughout the day, allowing visitors to follow the Allies’ progress.
- The main D-Day ceremony at the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center will include a very special presentation of the French Legion of Honor to a number of WWII veterans who helped liberate France from Nazi rule.
- A lecture and book signing by acclaimed historian Dr. John C. McManus, who shares the harrowing story of the “Big Red One,” the 1st Infantry Division’s D-Day assault on the eastern sector of Omaha Beach. McManus will read excerpts from his newly released book The Dead and Those About to Die.
- A rare opportunity to board the Museum replica LCVP or “Higgins Boat,” while a curator explains the landing craft’s role in the D-Day invasion.
- The Museum’s Andrews Sisters-style trio, the Victory Belles, will pay tribute to those who served with a performance of patriotic favorites.
In addition to the on-campus events, the Museum, founded as the D-Day Museum in 2000, will celebrate its 14th birthday on June 6, with its traditional red, white and blue cupcakes. Visitors will be encouraged to return later in the year for the Museum’s next big celebration, the December opening of its newest pavilion Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters.
Opening December 2014, Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters is destined to become the heart and soul of the institution’s six-acre campus. The new 31,000-square-foot pavilion is both a physical transformation to the campus and an emotional focus for visitors. The exhibits tell the story of America’s experience in WWII — how it was fought and won as well as the struggles and sacrifice of America’s citizen soldiers. Digital technology, eyewitness videos and key artifacts convey the cacophony of war, transporting visitors into the battlefield environment. The first phase to open will be the Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries with a focus on the major European battles to lesser known yet vital campaigns and efforts that laid the groundwork for the Normandy D-Day invasion.
For more information on The National WWII Museum’s D-Day 70 commemorations, visit dday70.org.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.