June 6 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day. This weekend, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum will commemorate D-Day with two days of events. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with #DDay70.
And if you can’t make it to Abilene, you can explore National Archives documents and photographs in our special D-Day exhibit “D-Day and the Normandy Invasion,” now live on the Google Cultural Institute.
The “D-Day + 70 Years” commemorative weekend will kick off on Friday, June 6, with a Remembrance Ceremony and rifle salute. There will also tours with the Library staff and you can meet historical reenactors.
At 2 p.m., there will be a showing of The Ritchie Boys, a film about an elite unit comprised of Jewish refugees who returned to Europe as Allied soldiers. Afterwards, Guenther Stern, a former a Ritchie Boy, will give a talk on his experiences.
Stern was born in Hildesheim, Germany, in 1922. He was the only member of his family of five who escaped and emigrated to the United States in 1937. In 1942, after turning 18, Guenther, now called Guy, was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was sent to Camp Ritchie and became a POW interrogator. Two days after D-Day, he arrived in Germany to interrogate German prisoners. He later received the Bronze Star for his “method of mass interrogation.” After Germany’s capitulation, he learned that his family perished in the Warsaw ghetto. Guy became a professor of German Language and Literature at Columbia University. Today, he is Distinguished Professor for German at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Saturday events begin with the film D-Day Plus 20 Years: Eisenhower returns to Normandy. The afternoon features panel discussions sharing stories of those on the home front and on the battlefields, and is followed by award-winning biographer and historian Nigel Hamilton discussing this important anniversary.
Families are encouraged to bring blankets and eat on the grounds. On Saturday, food and beverage vendors will be open from noon to 9:30 p.m. However, no outside coolers will be permitted. Random security checks of bags and containers will be in place.
A C-47 flyover will take place Saturday evening around 5 p.m. More than 1,000 C-47s dropped paratroopers behind enemy lines as part of Operation Overlord. The aircraft will be on view at the Abilene Municipal Airport. Additionally, the campus grounds will be scattered with a number of WWII-era military equipment and vehicles including a Sherman tank, tank destroyer, half track, jeeps and a motorcycle.
The third annual Symphony at Sunset D-Day Commemoration Concert begins at 7 p.m. Admission is a $5 minimum suggested donation. (There’s no charge for children ages 12 and under). The 1st Infantry Division Band will perform the opening act, followed at 8:30 p.m. with the headline performance by the Salina Symphony.
The Symphony at Sunset rain date is June 8 at 8:30 p.m.
On both Friday and Saturday, there will be gallery talks given by the Eisenhower curatorial team every 30 minutes beginning at 10 a.m.. The topics are:
- Be Ye Men of Valour: Allies of World War II
- Forbidden Art
- World War II Remembered: Leaders, Battles & Heroes
- World War II Remembered: Exhibit Supplements
Additionally, military reenactors will provide narrated weapons demonstrations at their encampment at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m.
You can find the full list of events here.