• To Set Free a Suffering Humanity": D-Day and American Remembrance

      Urwin, Gregory J. W., 1955-; Lockenour, Jay, 1966-; Bailey, Beth L., 1957-; Piehler, G. Kurt (Temple University. Libraries, 2012)
      This dissertation explores the development of an American D-Day tale. D-Day, the Allied invasion of northwestern France in June 1944, stood out to Americans because it seemed to promise a quick end to the Second World War in Europe. This lasting conception of the amphibious assault as a critical juncture has placed it in the forefront of American memories of the war's European phase. More than a turning point, however, American conceptions of the event have come to constitute a veritable morality tale. According to its narrative, D-Day demonstrated the military competence of a free republic that put its faith in citizen-soldiers. This tale has romanticized warfare by depicting it as an event populated by democratic heroes engaging clearly evil foes in decisive clashes fought for liberty, national redemption, and world salvation. The redemptive power of violence displayed on Norman beaches enjoyed divine blessing, and even, as sometimes claimed, outright assistance. Veterans and their family members, politicians, military leaders, honorific organizations, news media personalities, filmmakers, scholars and authors all have offered entries into a staggering field of American D-Day-related material. Their messages, largely similar in tone, transmitted to American audiences through museums, monuments, news stories, books, speeches, games, documentary films and Hollywood spectaculars. This dissertation will also evaluate the impact of their memory work on America. D-Day allegedly reaffirmed cherished American notions of democracy, fair play, moral order, and the militant (yet non-militaristic) use of power for divinely sanctioned and altruistic purposes. Such interpretations of clashing arms have exerted a powerful influence on American conceptions of patriotism, civic duty, and the efficacious use of military power. Feeding the militarization of American culture in the Cold War and beyond, the D-Day tale has pushed Americans to see war as a bloody yet noble clash, a veritable crusade used by the righteous for just purpose and decisive results. This story has cemented into place popular conceptions of the battle and an ideal-type of expectations for "good" wars.