On June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied troops participated in the largest air, sea, and land operation in the history of warfare. The Germans had heavily fortified the beaches of Normandy and 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives in the assault. Ultimately, the invasion was successful and the liberation of Europe had begun. On the evening of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt addressed the nation and asked his audience to join him in a prayer for the troops and the country. American Presidents have been invited to Normandy to commemorate the anniversary of the D-Day invasion on numerous occasions. The Presidential speeches in Normandy are some of the most moving rhetoric spoken by American Presidents where D-Day veterans are honored for their sacrifice, our Alliances are remembered and renewed, and our nation’s commitment to democracy is reaffirmed. During this lesson, students will have the opportunity to watch D-Day Anniversary speeches delivered by several different presidents. Students will be able to record their thoughts about the themes and delivery of each presidential speech. Students will then have the opportunity to do a comparison of the speeches and both individual and group reflection. Students will ultimately have the opportunity individually or with a partner to draft a 2-3 minute speech for the 80th Anniversary of D-Day.
This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.
You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handout and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.
You can also save and share the following Google resource for students to use with this lesson.
Handout: Graphic Organizer (Google Doc).
In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.
Direct your students to their graphic organizers to view and define the vocabulary terms that will appear in the lesson in the chart in their graphic organizer handout. The vocabulary words are also listed to the right on this webpage.
We recommend having your students complete the activity in a jigsaw format to save time. Or, depending on time and resources, you may consider having your students engage in a Frayer's Model activity, where each student is responsible for completing one or two items. Students can then post their models around the room for reference throughout the lesson.
Note: this is not an all-encompassing list of terms included in each video. We recommend you preview the video clips to determine any necessary additions/subtractions to this list for your specific students.
Have students choose 2 or 3 different presidents (or you can assign each president).
Direct your students to watch the portions of the speeches for their selected (or assigned) presidents that are provided in the graphic organizer. As students watch the video clips, they should record their feedback on the theme(s), tone, and delivery of each speech in the chart offered in the graphic organizer.
The selected speech excerpts are listed below:
After your students have finished viewing their selected/assigned speeches and recorded their feedback on the handout, have the students progress to the reflection section of their graphic organizers. Direct them to respond to the individual reflection questions, using the chart included in the graphic organizer.
Then, have students work with a partner or a small group and share their feedback, also answering the group reflection questions too. Partners/groups should look to see if their feedback was similar or different, identify if different presidents used similar themes in their speeches, and whether or not presidents had similar tones and style of delivery.
If students watch all of the video clips, have the students vote on which speech they liked the best and which speech they liked the least. Students should be prepared to explain their votes.
A group discussion can be added for closure where each group shares from their group reflection.
Direct your students to the closure and writing prompt section of their graphic organizers.
Have students watch the two following video clips, using the chart in their graphic organizers to guide their reflective thoughts.
Have your students assume the role of presidential speechwriter.
Working individually or with a partner, direct your students to address the following prompt: The 80th Anniversary of D-Day will take place on June 6, 2024 and the President of the United States has been invited to give remarks at the Normandy American Cemetery. Your task is to write a 2-3 minute speech incorporating the themes of dedication, sacrifice, public service, freedom, and democracy.
If your students would like to try to match the “presidential voice” when writing their speech, they can search the president in the C-SPAN video library to find examples of the current President's speeches.