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CNN Presents Classroom: D-Day: A Call to Courage

(CNN Student News) -- Set your VCR to record the CNN Presents Classroom Edition: D-Day: A Call to Courage when it airs commercial-free on Monday, July 3, 2006, from 4:00 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program.)

Program Overview

It was the largest seaborne invasion force ever assembled; a bold and daring gamble to save the world from Nazi Germany. D-Day, June 6, 1944, is referred to as one of the key turning points in the 20th century, when more than 100,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in northern France and turned the tide of World War II. CNN Presents Classroom Edition: D-Day: A Call to Courage relates the story of this pivotal World War II invasion through the perspectives of the men who landed on the beaches at Normandy. The program includes rare and insightful commentary from John Eisenhower, the son of the Supreme Allied Commander and future U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and esteemed journalists Douglas Brinkley and Walter Cronkite.

Note to Teachers: Please preview this program as it contains images that some students may find disturbing.

Grade Levels: 10-12, College

Subject Areas: World History, U.S. History, Political Science

Objectives: The CNN Presents Classroom Edition: D-Day: A Call to Courage and its corresponding discussion questions and activity challenge students to:

  • Describe the events surrounding the D-Day invasion;
  • Examine the impact of the D-Day invasion from multiple perspectives;
  • Propose suggestions for how to remember D-Day;
  • Evaluate the lasting significance of D-Day.
  • Curriculum Connections

    Social Studies

    Standard II. Time, Continuity and Change: Students will learn about the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

    Standard X. Civic Ideals and Practices: Students will examine the ideals, principles and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

    The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( link) are published by the National Council for Social Studies ( link).


    Era 8 -The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)

    Standard 3B -Demonstrate understanding of World War II and how the Allies prevailed.

    The National Standards for History ( link) are published by the National Center for History in the Schools ( link).

    Discussion Questions

    1. Locate the following on a map: Great Britain, the English Channel and Normandy, France.
    2. When did the World War II invasion of Normandy, France, take place? What were some of the names given to this invasion?
    3. What Supreme Allied Commander made the decision to launch the invasion? Based on what you saw and heard in the program, how would you describe this commander's leadership?
    4. What was the goal of the Normandy invasion? What equipment, ships and aircraft did the Allies use for the invasion? What had the Germans done to fortify the coast of France prior to the invasion? Why did so many Allied troops lose their lives in this invasion?
    5. According to the program, how did weather impact the invasion?
    6. How did the D-Day veterans featured in the program describe the events leading up to and during the invasion? What is your reaction to the video images of the invasion? What do you think motivated the soldiers to answer "a call to courage"? Do you think that you could -- or would -- answer a similar call to courage? Explain.
    7. What is a "turning point in history"? Why do you think that, throughout the program, the World War II invasion of Normandy is referred to as a turning point?
    8. How is the D-Day invasion addressed in your textbooks? How does D-Day: A Call to Courage add to your understanding of this key historical event?
    9. To what extent do you think that the World War II invasion of Normandy is still relevant today? What role, if any, do you think that this battle plays in discussions of America's current war in Iraq and the war against terrorism?
    10. How did journalists Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley suggest D-Day should be remembered? How do you think that Americans should remember the invasion of Normandy?

    Suggested Activities

    D-Day was one of the most dramatic events in world history. Organize students into small groups. Refer them to print and online resources to read through eyewitness accounts of the invasion and research the strategies that were used on D-Day. Have student groups role-play teams of war correspondents going ashore with the troops to report on the invasion. Groups can address the trip aboard one of the ships in the invasion fleet, "hitting the beach," the bloody fighting at Omaha Beach or interviews with soldiers. Challenge student groups to create multimedia presentations to share their impressions of the battle. To wrap up the activity, have students select what they think should be remembered about this battle.

    Extension: Encourage students to investigate how communities across the country are commemorating D-Day. Discuss why Americans observe this event each year. Invite community members or local war veterans to talk to your class about D-Day, how this event was reported at the time, and whether or not the passage of time has altered perspectives of the invasion.


    World War II, Allies, D-Day, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Normandy, Depression, contentious objector, Pearl Harbor, English Channel, Neville Chamberlain, Philippines, Nazis, paratroopers, Star of David, mines, Higgins Landing Craft, Omaha Beach, Rangers, shrapnel, Battle of the Bulge, Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, turning point

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