75th Anniversary of D-Day: June 6

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.  It was the largest seaborne invasion in history, with more than 160,000 Allied troops landing along the 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany.  Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

What does the “D” in D-Day mean?

This is the most frequently asked question by visitors to The National WWII Museum. Many people think they know the answer: designated day, decision day, doomsday, or even death day. But the answer is not so simple.   In Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, he writes:

Time magazine reported on June 12 [1944] that “as far as the U.S. Army can determine, the first use of D for Day, H for Hour was in Field Order No. 8, of the First Army, A.E.F., issued on Sept. 20, 1918, which read, ‘The First Army will attack at H-Hour on D-Day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel salient.’” (p. 491)

In other words, the D in D-Day merely stands for Day. This coded designation was used for the day of any important invasion or military operation. For military planners (and later historians), the days before and after a D-Day were indicated using plus and minus signs: D-4 meant four days before a D-Day, while D+7 meant seven days after a D-Day.

In Paul Dickson’s War Slang, he quotes Robert Hendrickson’s Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins:

Many explanations have been given for the meaning of D-Day, June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Normandy from England during World War II. The Army has said that it is “simply an alliteration, as in H-Hour.” Others say the first D in the word also stands for “day,” the term a code designation. The French maintain the D means “disembarkation,” still others say “debarkation,” and the more poetic insist D-Day is short for “day of decision.” When someone wrote to General Eisenhower in 1964 asking for an explanation, his executive assistant Brigadier General Robert Schultz answered: “General Eisenhower asked me to respond to your letter. Be advised that any amphibious operation has a ‘departed date’; therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used.” (p.146) Brigadier General Schultz reminds us that the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 was not the only D-Day of World War II. Every amphibious assault—including those in the Pacific, in North Africa, and in Sicily and Italy—had its own D-Day.

Want to learn more about D-Day?

D-Day, June 6, 1944 : the climactic battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose.  call number:  D756.5.N6 A455 1994

The longest day : June 6, 1944 by Cornelius Ryan. call number: D756.5.N6 R9 1994

D-day [streaming media]. 45 minutes.
URL:  Access for [Bloomington, Columbus, East, IUPUI, Kokomo, Northwest, South Bend, Southeast] – (Available on campus and off campus with authorized logon)


Reading List for Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 is out!


The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military by Rawn James, Jr. – Reveals how the campaign for equality in the military gave impetus to the fight for equality in civilian society.  NONFICTION

Mission Betrayed: How the VA Really Fails America’s Vets – Written by cardiothoracic surgeon, Michael J. Mann, a look into VA health care delivery.  NONFICTION

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger – Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, this book explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that for many veterans as well as civilians, war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations.  NONFICTION

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Considered one of the world’s great antiwar books. It centers on the infamous firebombing of Dresden during WWII.  FICTION

Book club discussion questions: I was told to come alone


  • What new things did you learn about the complicated and inter-connected underworld of jihadi terrorism?  Were you surprised?  Does it help you understand the news better?
  • Does the author’s research and reporting suggest any solutions to the intractable problems related to terrorism?
  • The author was was inspired to become a reporter by the movie, All the President’s Men, as a teenager.  (available on DVD in Schurz Library’s feature film room, 1st floor: PN1997 .A45 2006) What are we losing with the decline of professional journalism and fewer reporters with training and access to resources?
  • The author is passionate about the subjects she reports on, and is clearly empathetic with many of those that she interviews.  However, she is also committed to truthfulness and professional standards of reporting.    Does she succeed in striking a balance?
  • The Washington Post‘s review states, “Most of her memoir is less about jihad than about the process of reporting it.”  What parallels are there between the experiences of this reporter and the memoirs of soldiers that we’ve read?  What are the significant differences?

Behind the Lines of Jihad: One Journalist’s Fascinating Account

The next book club meeting will be on Thursday March 28 at 5:30 in room 301 of the Schurz Library to discuss I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet. The author is a correspondent for the Washington Post and reports for several other national and intentional publications on terrorism. In this memoir, she does a masterful job of integrating her experience as a journalist, a Muslim, a European and a woman. This book was included in a number of national ‘best books of 2017’ lists. ​


“All Muslims should be united, yes.” He sipped his tea. “First Palestine was taken from us.  Then they gave Iraq to the Shia and Iran.  Every Muslim understands that only a caliphate with a strong leader can protect them.”

If you would like a copy of the book, contact Vicki Bloom, Dean of Library Services at vdbloom@iusb.edu.  Please feel free to share information with others who might be interested. All are welcome.


Photograph by Müller-Stauffenberg / Ullstein Bild via Getty

Discussion Questions: All Quiet on the Western Front – Jan 31

allquietmovieThe book compellingly describes the stark divide between the front lines and the home front in a war that ended over 100 years ago. How relevant and how accurate do you find those depictions today? Does the stark psychological divide between soldiers and civilians continue today? In what ways?

 The book was an international bestseller, including in Germany where it was first published in 1929. Yet it was banned there by the Nazis after Hitler assumed power in 1933. Why do you think that was?

 Why do you think that this book, with its focus on the German perspective in WWI, remains so popular today?


January 2019: All Quiet on the Western Front

Our next Veterans Book Club selection, All Quiet on the Western Front, is considered by many the greatest war novel of all time. Its themes of the horror and brutality of war, and its effect on soldiers are universal. Written by German war veteran, Erich Maria Remarque, this book book sold out on the first day of its release!  It was also banned and burned during the Nazi Germany regime.

Read this fascinating novel and join us on Thursday, January 31 at 5:30 in Room 301 of the Schurz Library.  You do not have to be a veteran or family of a veteran to join.  EVERYONE is welcome. Our discussion will the led by Associate professor of German, Dr. Jeffrey Luppes.  Copies of All Quiet on the Western Front can be obtained by contacting Rhonda Culbertson at rculbert@iusb.edu.  


Here, Bullet Discussion Questions

From Kelcey Ervick, Associate Professor of English, Director of Creative Writing who will be facilitating the Nov. 6th book discussion:

This book includes Arabic language as well as military terminology. How does language help us communicate but also create distance between people and cultures?

 Turner includes many animals in his poems. We don’t usually think much of the presence of animals with respect to war. What do you think of these references?

 What do you think of Turner’s descriptions and portrayals of bodies, the way he zooms in on individual parts?  How does war affect the body?

 Turner’s book has been praised for its representation of Iraqis and its emphasis on the humanity of all the people affected by and participating in the war. How does he do this? Why is it important?

 How does this book shape your way of thinking about war, combat, and military experiences? What role can poetry in general play in relation to war? 

Fall 2018 Events

The IU South Bend Veterans Book Club has three events planned this semester, some of which focus on the transitioning of veterans to campus life.  Please consider joining us for new insights and lively conversation.  Student veterans, faculty and others from campus and the community interested in veterans experiences are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.  To RSVP, or for more information on any of these events, please contact Rhonda Culbertson, rculbert@iusb.edu or Vicki Bloom, vdbloom@iusb.edu.

1st meeting: Film Screening (70 minutes)
Friday, October 26, 1:00pm, UCET classroom, Northside 245   afterthewar

The War After: The Challenging Transition from Active Duty to Civilian Life

View this insightful documentary featuring nine diverse U.S. veterans transitioning from active duty to the highs and lows of forging their independent identities in a large liberal university. The film was directed and produced by award winning filmmaker Dena Seidel in collaboration with Rutgers Film Bureau Productions. The film is available through the Kanopy streaming movie database on the IU South Bend Libraries website.

2nd meeting – Poetry Book Discussion
​Tuesday, November 6, 5:30 pm, Schurz Library, 3rd floor conference room herebullet2

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

Brian Turner is an Iraq veteran and soldier-poet whose poetry of witness is exceptional for its beauty, honesty, and skill.  This collection won the Beatrice Hawley award for poetry.  The discussion will be led by author and IU South Bend Creative Writing professor, Kelcey Ervick. Copies of the book are available to be checked out at the Schurz Library (call number PS3620.U763 H47 2005) or by contacting Vicki Bloom at vdbloom@iusb.edu.

3rd meeting – Panel discussion with student veterans and faculty
Friday, November 9, 1:30pm, UCET classroom, Northside 245

veteransbookPreparing Your Campus for Veteran Success:  An Approach to Facilitating the Transition and Persistence of Military Students by Bruce C. Kelley, Justin M. Smith, and Ernetta L. Fox.

Engage with fellow faculty and a panel of student veterans about effective ways to teach and connect with student veterans. Using the book as a guide, the panel will touch upon ways to build on student veterans strengths while mitigating some of the barriers that contribute to their lower persistence and academic success. The discussion will be facilitated by Rhiannon Carlson (Office of Veteran Student Services Coordinator/Counselor) and John Thompson (Lecturer, Raclin School of the Arts), both veterans themselves and advocates for veteran’s concerns.  The e-book can be accessed through IUCAT, the online catalog.  The discussion will focus on section 3,  Innovative Approaches to Serving Veterans in the Classroom of the book.

Next book: War is the Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges

hedgesJoin us on April 4th in the 3rd floor conference room of the Schurz Library at 5:30pm to discuss this tour de force!

Some discussion questions include:

  1. Do you accept Hedges’ suggestion that war is inevitable?
  2. Hedges stresses the importance of the first death, the first atrocity in the prelude to a war, quoting Elias Canetti who wrote, “It is the first death which infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened” (144). Why is the first death, the first battle or atrocity, so important? Why is it often difficult later to go back and examine what initially led to a war?
  3. The concept of the protection of the dead in war, and the importance of a proper burial are discussed several times throughout the book. Why are these concepts important?
  4. Hedges believes that “the only antidote to ward off self-destruction and the indiscriminate use of force is humility and, ultimately, compassion” [p. 17]. In what ways has America moved away from these virtues in the past decade? How can
    humility and compassion, individually and collectively, restrain nations from going to war? Why is it so difficult, and so important, to feel compassion for one’s enemies? What memorable examples of compassion does the book provide?
  5. Hedges writes that the deadly attraction of war is that “even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living” [p. 3]. At the end of the book, he writes that love “alone gives us meaning that endures” [p. 184–85]. How can we ensure that love, rather than war,
    remains the force that gives meaning to our lives?
  6. Is Hedges a victim of war? Has been affected even more deeply that he lets on in the book? Did his position as a journalist shield him from certain aspects of war that soldiers face, or was he affected in the same way?