Remembering, a D-Day Exhibit

D-Day exhibit

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) has a new D-Day exhibit honoring the 75th D-Day Anniversary. The exhibit is titled, “In This Great Struggle: The Greatest Generation Remembers World War II.”

The D-Day exhibit opened on June 6, 2019. I had the honor of viewing the exhibit which is built around the audio and video recordings gathered through the libraries Oral History Program. Chris Wills of the museum shared that the dramatic entry to the exhibit, “Is like entering a troop transport landing on the beaches.”

D-Day exhibit
Entry into the World War II exhibit – be prepared, it is thought provoking.

As you enter the D-Day Exhibit, you hear the sounds of battle all around you. Once inside you get the chance to listen to stories from locals recounting their experiences.

The entry wording is “On June 6, 1944 – D-Day – American forces landed on Utah and Omaha beaches in Normandy, France. They arrived wet and sea sick from their ride ashore in small landing craft. What they faced was this scene of Hitlers, “Fortress Europe”.

Next is a warning that the exhibit does include graphic images.

The Challenge for creating the D-Day Exhibit

The challenge of this exhibit Chris Wills said per the designers was narrowing down the items.

D-Day exhibit
Posters tell part of the story.

The Artifacts & the stories of D-Day from a local perspective.

There are many things you will see and remember long after leaving the D-Day exhibit from the stories of the people and what they endured. I will always recall the doll of the little Mary Ann Ladic. She carried this doll into a Japanese prison camp when her family was taken into custody in the Philippines. This remained her only possession.

prison camp possession
This doll was the young girl’s only possession.

I will remember the stories of the Dogs for Defense, and I think most of all I will remember the story of the Kenneth Hagen of Lincoln, Illinois who was declared dead. Later his family learned he was rescued. I won’t tell the story. You need to hear it your self, but it should be a movie, it is that wonderful.

French Resistance.
Papers created to get American through enemy lines.

One of a Kind items help tell the D-Day Exhibit story.

D-Day exhibit
D-Day Flag on display.

One of the most touching items to me is the tattered flag from the D-Day battle. While in shreds, she still stands strong!

At the exhibit Dwight Eisenhower’s helmet is on display. A rare War motorcycle can be viewed. Chris Wills said that the owner actually drove the cool vintage motorcycle to the museum!

While at the exhibit you will hear the personal stories told by the people that lived in this time period. Best of all, there is a booth where if you or your loved one has a story to tell, it to can be recorded.

Experiences you take away from this World War II exhibit.

A friend of mine is a volunteer at the museum. She shared that one day when she was working a man arrived in a Chinese uniform. He was from the Republic of China and had served under Chiang Kai-shek. She said that he and another US WWII veteran met and were talking. “I just wonder what they said to one another,” she told me.

The things you will learn and the experiences you glean from the exhibit will be your own. What you take away will depend on who you are, and your family history. Don’t miss this glorious exhibit that honors the Greatest Generation. The exhibit runs through January 12, 2020. Stop by and make memories of your own.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like reading about the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. This same museum also has a PT Boat tour that may interest you as well!

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  1. Rhonda Albom

    I believe these exhibits are valuable in that they tell a story that younger generations need to be reminded of. The sites and sounds of old battlefields will unfortunately not convey the horror of the battles.

    1. Cindy

      I agree. I especially like that this was done through the eyes of people that lived it.

  2. Doreen Pendgracs

    All the D-Day tributes have been fascinating to learn about. thx for sharing this one.

    1. Cindy

      It is very well done.

  3. Andi

    I enjoy movies about WWII and have visited Normandy in France, I am sure I would enjoy this museum and I had no idea it was in New Orleans!

    1. Cindy

      Andi, the Abraham Presidential museum where the D-Day exhibit is at is in Springfield, Illinois, but the WWII museum I talk about at the bottom of the story is in New Orleans and it is awesome as well!

  4. melody pittman

    That is a great museum! I would love to check it out. D-Day is extra special to me as my grandfathers (both) served in WWII and one was in Normandy. Eddie and I got married on that day, too.

    1. Cindy

      Sounds like the prefect exhibit for you to see. Come on down and I’ll take you around!