The 60th anniversary of D-Day and the
dedication of D.C.'s first National WWII Memorial have
heightened World War II interest in the United States, but
the war reached all corners of the globe, leaving a physical
record that remains accessible to anyone who wants to know
about and remember the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.
, author of The 25 Best World War II Sites: European
Theater and Pacific Theater travel guides.
National World War II Memorial
It seemed strange. The United States capital had monuments honoring
American soldiers from Korea, Vietnam, even the Civil War. Yet the
"Greatest Generation," which fought the largest war in history, was
largely ignored. That changed on May 29 with the dedication of the
National World War II Memorial.
Located on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and
Washington Monument, the sunken plaza covers 7.4 acres and
incorporates 56 massive pillars representing wartime U.S. states
and territories. A pair of 43-foot arches emblazoned "Atlantic" and
"Pacific" commemorates both fronts of the war. Sixteen million
Americans served in the armed forces during World War II (405,973
died, 671,278 were injured), but the monument honors all American
participants, including those on the homefront.
D-Day In Normandy
Accounts of the June 6, 1944, Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy,
France, typically impose a sense of narrative order upon events of
the most historic day in American arms. But the experience of what
was at the time the largest amphibious assault ever mounted (at
right) is best understood in terms of the early anarchy that
prevailed on the invasion beaches. As one GI disembarking onto a
corpse-littered Omaha Beach put it: "I became a visitor to hell."
Nine Allied divisions - five American, three British, one Canadian,
with Belgian, French, Polish, and other Allied participation -
established a foothold