George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Media advisory: Experts available to discuss 70th anniversary of D-Day

Thu, 05/29/2014

LAWRENCE — June 6 will mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that became a major turning point in World War II as more than a million American, British and Canadian soldiers began the brutal trek across Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who grew up in Kansas, led the largest amphibious invasion in history on June 6, 1944, in Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, France.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in Normandy as part of the 70th anniversary ceremony. An estimated 550 American veterans of World War II die each day, according to Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, meaning this likely will be one of the final major D-Day anniversary celebrations to include living veterans.

The University of Kansas has experts who are available to comment on different aspects of the D-Day invasion and its place in World War II, American and world history.

Adrian Lewis, professor of history, can speak about the military strategy behind the invasion and its place in the history of warfare. Lewis is author of the 2001 book "Omaha Beach: A Flawed Victory." He has also contributed to six documentaries related to the Normandy invasion, including a two-hour special episode of NOVA on PBS "D-Day's Sunken Secrets," in which he examined underwater wrecked ships, tanks and landing craft from the mission. In addition to his extensive scholarship on the Normandy invasion, Lewis, a retired Army major, also wrote the 2012 book "The American Culture of War: A History of American Military Force from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom."

Lewis said the D-Day invasion, also known as Operation Overlord, was notable from a military perspective for the technological advancements the Allies implemented to prepare for the massive assault. Also, it became a success despite several failures in planning.

"The Normandy invasion was the most important operation of the war for the Americans and British, and it could have failed, as the battle for Omaha Beach demonstrates," Lewis said. "Soldiers, not generals, made the difference."

Theodore Wilson, a professor of 20th century U.S. political, military and diplomatic history, is available to talk about the Allied coalition and the decisions its leaders faced prior to D-Day. Wilson is general editor of the Modern War Studies series published by the University Press of Kansas. Of the more than 300 titles in the series, some 30 works focus on the Normandy invasion and related issues. He also edited the book "D-Day 1944" that outlines lessons and meanings behind the major invasion and why D-Day remains such a monumental event in national memory.

Wilson has also studied the selection and training of U.S. ground combat troops in the war. He said Allied troops faced a daunting task in execution of the strategy behind the Normandy invasion, which eventually led to the reopening of the Western Front of the war.

KU in the news
It’s your freshman year. Want to get started with academic success and to explore interesting and important questions? We have something that can help: KU First-Year Seminars. These for-credit courses provide KU freshmen with an early opportunity to deeply explore big and exciting questions in an academic content area of their choosing. Timothy McGinnis, a journalism and environmental studies student, said his seminar "made me realize that you don't have to take classes based on your major in order to learn something. Broaden your knowledge...take new classes to see if it interests you." Delve into your interests - be a Jayhawk and explore a First-Year Seminar. Learn more: Tags: #BeAJayhawk KU Office of First-Year Experience The University of Kansas Office of Admissions

RT @KUAthletics : With an 11th-straight @Big12Conference championship, @KUHoops owns an @NCAA record 58 all-time conference titles. http://t…
Explore KU Seasons: Winter The crisp scrape of a shovel alerts your senses. Everything is different. Unexpected works of white powdery art are almost everywhere — some crafted by nature, others by whimsical students. Following a fresh snowfall, the University of Kansas’ campus takes on an almost magical majesty. And students flock out to explore the Hill under winter’s wonderful cloak, adding to their rich four-season experience as Jayhawks.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times