D + 10 Years: The 1954 Celebration of the World War II Invasion of Normandy
Today’s post is written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park.
This past weekend saw the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy during World War II. The invasion was memorably portrayed in the movie The Longest Day (1962) and in episodes of the mini-series “Band of Brothers.” By all accounts, this year’s celebratory events were a grand success.
The same cannot be said about the 10th anniversary celebration in 1954, at least from the American perspective. The French planners of the events had invited President Dwight Eisenhower, who had been the Allied commander of the invasion, to attend, but the press of business kept him in Washington. He designated Henry Cabot Lodge, then serving as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as his representative and to lead the American delegation.
The celebrations stretched over two days. On June 5, activities focused on honoring the British and Canadian contributions to the invasion. Events on June 6 honored American participation in the invasion. The weather was terrible (cold and rainy); the traffic and parking even worse; Ambassador Lodge and the American military officers attending did not receive the respect they expected; and the events were not well planned or coordinated. This is all described in the detailed report by the U.S. Consul in Cherbourg. His report is reproduced in the following ten images.
This record is from File 851.424/6-1154 of the Central Decimal Files (National Archives Identifier 302021), RG 59, General Records of the Department of State.