Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
D-day Message from General Eisenhower to General Marshall
This lesson correlates to the National History Standards.
- Era 8 -The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
- Standard 3B -Demonstrate understanding of World War II and how the Allies prevailed.
This lesson correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government.
- Standard III.B.2. -Evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues regarding the major responsibilities of the national government for domestic and foreign policy.
- Standard IV.A.2. -Explain how nation-states interact with each other.
- Standard IV.C.2. -Evaluate, take, and defend positions about the effects of significant international political developments on the United States and other nations.
Article I, Section 8, Paragraphs 11 through 16, of the U.S. Constitution grant Congress the power to declare war and provide for and regulate a military force. This lesson addresses the success of such a force on D-Day.
Share this lesson with your history, government, and language arts colleagues.
- Distribute copies of the document to your students and ask them the following
- Who created the document?
- What type of document is it?
- For what purpose was the document created?
- Who received the document?
- Whose copy of the document is this?
- What do the dates of the document reveal about the life of the document?
- Ask your students to speculate on the meaning of the security classification designations "Top Secret" and "Eyes Only" evidenced in the document. Invite a local active or retired member of the military services into the classroom to assist the students in understanding what the designations mean and why this document needed to remain security-classified for 23 years.
- Ask students to interpret Eisenhower's description of the departing airborne troops. Then ask them if the descriptive words, "the light of battle was in their eyes," is a positive or a negative description. Next, ask students to identify and make a chart of additional cliches for those about to go into battle. Then, ask them to locate war poems written by World War I British poet Wilfred Owen or World War II American poet Randall Jarrell and speculate on how the poets might react to the language Eisenhower employed.
Related Topics for Research
- For further study, students might research and present brief reports on the following topics:
- What did U.S. citizens learn about the early progress of the invasion from the newspapers in your area? Microfilmed copies of old issues of newspapers may be available at your local library or through interlibrary loan to your school library or media center.
- What was the weather like in the days immediately preceding the invasion and for several days afterward? Why were the tidal cycles and the moon phase important?
- How did Eisenhower arrive at the decision to proceed with the invasion on June 6?
- Trace and summarize the evolution of the decision to mount an invasion across the English Channel. Include in the report accounts of what transpired at key Allied meetings such as those held in Casablanca, Quebec, Cairo, and Teheran.
- Describe the elaborate deception effort of placing Gen. George Patton in charge of a phantom 1st U.S. Army Group (FUSAG) to keep the Nazis guessing about troop buildups and movements prior to D-day.
- Compare and contrast the communication capabilities of the U.S. military
during World War II and at present.
- If possible, arrange for a veteran of the D-day invasion to describe his
or her participation for the class in person, through a letter, or by telephone
- Ask volunteers to research and role play the tense Teheran Conference.
Ask the class to evaluate the positions the three leaders took.
- After studying the decision to proceed with the D-day invasion, ask your students to consider whether or not they would have made the same decision Eisenhower made. They should justify their decisions in a brief written memorandum addressed to Marshall.