I love the Who Was? Book Series of biographies geared towards kids. It only takes me an hour or two to finish one and they give a great overview of someone’s life and contributions. I like to read them before visiting monuments or memorials because I always find interesting stories to share with my kids. I hadn’t read any of the What Was? Series from the same publisher, but last month I read “What was D-Day?” and I loved it!
As I was reading it, I found myself calling out to my husband and kids, “Hey, did you know….?!” We all marveled at the ingenuity and bravery of the Allied leaders and soldiers as they stormed the beaches of Normandy. The book gave a quick, but rather thorough, overview of why World War II started and the countries involved. It helped me understand for the first time all of the circumstances that necessitated D-Day and the immense planning that went into it. This would be a good book to read before visiting the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
3 Fascinating Facts to Share with Your Kids about D-Day When Visiting the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC
- While planning to storm the beaches at Normandy, the Allied military leaders made Hitler believe that they were really planning to invade Calais, France from Dover, England instead! They used inflatable tanks, played records of clanking sounds, and more to fool him into moving his troops away from the real attack site. You can learn more by researching “Operation Fortitude” for specifics on the fakery used for D-day or “The Ghost Army” for a broader understanding of the fakery used in general.
- Hundreds of the “planes” used were not really planes at all! They were gliders made of plywood and were towed over the channel by real planes, how resourceful!
- The D-Day attack had been carefully planned according to the full moon, low tide, and more (I had never thought about all of these details they needed to consider!); unfortunately, things did not all go according to plan. One of those things was that thousands of paratroopers didn’t land where they were supposed to, in fact, one 17-year-old soldier named Ken Russell got caught on the roof of a village church! He didn’t give up though, he cut himself down and kept fighting. (For adults: if you’re interested in more details about Ken Russell and John Steele, another soldier who got caught on the steeple of that same church in France, as well as John Ray, the American soldier who saved both of them after being shot by a German soldier and who later died from his wounds, click on those two links…however, be aware, the details may be too much for children.)
These three facts can lead to further discussion with your kids…
- Things are not always what they seem.
- When is deception ok?
- If you are determined to get something done, creativity and resourcefulness can go a long way! The book also mentions the use of parachuting dummies that were used to create confusion and lure the enemy forces away from the actual invasion site. They even put explosives on the dummy’s backs!
- Even when you thoroughly plan and prepare, things may still go wrong and you will need to be flexible and think on your feet. The book shared a number of stories where soldiers had to change their plans completely in order to survive, but eventually, leaders emerged and through their determination and bravery, the Allied Forces won the battle.
- The ultimate sacrifice of so many of our armed forces cannot be forgotten, they have preserved our freedoms and we should never forget them. We can honor them now, by showing respect to their memories in how we live and how we act…this is a good time to remind them of how to show respect when visiting a monument or memorial.