The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park will commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday, June 6.
D-Day, June 6, 1944, marked the beginning of the largest amphibious invasion in history: Operation Overlord. The Allied landings in the Normandy region—more than 160,000 troops—triggered the liberation of Nazi-occupied France and laid the foundation for victory in Europe during World War II.
“The world would have been a dark place without the courage and personal sacrifice of the Allied soldiers at Normandy,” said Krewasky Salter, First Division Museum executive director. “They, including soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division who invaded heavily fortified Omaha Beach, knew that at all cost they had to take the war to Germany’s territorial boundaries to achieve total victory.”
Indeed, the “Big Red One” led the landing on Omaha, one of five beaches the Allied forces assaulted and where they faced the strongest resistance. The German troops were defeated but thousands of American soldiers died in the battle.
“Because so many offered their lives and blood, we should all take the time to commemorate the men and learn about the events of that day 75 years ago—out of their darkness came our light,” Salter added.
A full day of commemorative “D-Day 75” activities are planned for all ages:
Opening Memorial Ceremony ● 10 am ● First Division Museum Courtyard
We remember those who served and sacrificed. Youth will be encouraged to participate in an important moment of the ceremony.
Meet the Soldiers of D-Day ● First Division Museum Courtyard
Living history performers bring real soldier stories to life:
11:30 am 1st Infantry Division Medal of Honor story
12:30 pm 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion story
1:30 pm 1st Infantry Division First Wave story
2:30 pm All three stories
D-Day Memorial Sand Sculpture ● west side of First Division Museum
Master Sculptor Ted Siebert presents a one-of-a-kind display made entirely of sand, depicting soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division who served on Omaha Beach.
History Alive! ● 12 to 4 pm ● First Division Museum Pavilion
Kids (and grown-ups) can try on the gear of a WWII soldier and train for a mission on the museum’s inflatable obstacle course.
Surviving D-Day Special Exhibit ● First in War Gallery, First Division Museum
How would you navigate the D-Day assault on Omaha Beach? Through first-hand accounts, explore the life-or-death decisions made by real soldiers on that fateful day.
Historic Vehicles and WWII Encampment ● west side of First Division Museum
Get hands-on with the First Division Museum’s roadworthy military fleet and meet WWII reenactors. Encampment Scavenger Hunt maps available!
Voices of D-Day ● 7 pm ● Cantigny Park Visitors Center
Meet and remember the D-Day soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division through oral histories narrated by the First Division Museum—a special edition of the museum’s popular Date with History Series.
Poster Display ● Cantigny Gardens
View WWII posters from the War and Food Administration displayed throughout Cantigny Park’s beautiful display gardens. Get inspired to grow your own Victory Garden at home!
FDR’s D-Day Prayer ● 1 to 4:30 pm ● Robert R. McCormick House
Listen to President Roosevelt’s famous “D-Day Prayer,” a national radio broadcast on June 6, 1944. The six-and-a-half-minute speech will play on a continuous loop during the museum’s afternoon open house.
Cantigny Park is open from 7 am to sunset, seven days a week. Regular parking is $5 and includes admission to the gardens and museums. For more information, visit www.cantigny.org.
About the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park
The First Division Museum promotes public learning about America’s military heritage and affairs through the history of the “Big Red One”—the famed 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. The museum’s main exhibit hall, First in War, transports visitors to the trenches of World War I, the beaches of World War II and the jungles of Vietnam. Outside, tanks are displayed from every era, along with artillery pieces and a personnel carrier. The Robert R. McCormick Research Center, open to the public, houses the museum’s library, archival and photo collections. For more information, visit www.fdmuseum.org.
About Cantigny Park
Cantigny Park, part of the Robert R. McCormick Foundations, is the 500-acre Wheaton estate of Col. Robert R. McCormick (1880-1955). It is home to the McCormick House, First Division Museum, display gardens, picnic grounds, walking trails and a full-service Visitors Center. More information, including hours, directions and upcoming events is posted online at www.cantigny.org.