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Contributing:Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- June 6 is a day that goes down in history as the day American and Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France a turning point in World War II.

More than 150,000 troops landed in France for one of the largest seaborne invasions in history, and those involved had to fight through the rough waters of the English Channel to reach the beaches where many lives were lost but where World War II was won.

The historic day took place 70-years-ago, but people will never forget D-Day because it was a pivotal point in changing the war at the time.

D-Day for those who don't know, means a day in which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated, and the Normandy landing had the code name 'Operation Neptune,' a military strategy to liberate German-occupied Western Europe.

While the day now known as D-Day changed the war, it cost of thousands of lives and in New Orleans a special piece of the history was built for use in the war.

On June 6th, 1944, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, many of the soldiers coming ashore were in Higgins Landing Crafts, made right here in New Orleans, for use during the long-awaited American invasion of Europe.

In addition to Higgins Landing Crafts, thousands of parachutes, ships and bombers flanked the coast at sunrise.

Once troops landed they faced obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of clearing teams very difficult and dangerous.

German casualties on D-day wwere around 4,000 9,000, and Allied casualties were at least 12,000.

Thousands of soldiers lost their lives, but the Allied forces prevailed turning the Tide of the War against the Nazis.

Eighty-nine-year-old Roland Chaisson was a 19-year-old corporal on D-Day when Germans killed half his squad before they could reach shore.

Chaisson is among D-Day veterans who will describe that day Friday and Saturday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. More than 15 hours of observances are planned Friday, the invasion's 70th anniversary.

Museum history chief Keith Huxen will speak at an 'H-hour' opening ceremony at 6:30 a.m. Friday. If the invasion had failed, he says, there was no 'Plan B.'

The National World War II Museum will be hosting many programs and events Friday and Saturday, as well as interactive exhibits to commemorate that historical day, inclduing rare tours of the museum's rebuilt Higgins boat that brought troops near the Normandy shore, and was built in New Orleans. Most are free to the public.

A list of events is below and for more information, click here.


Friday, June 6

The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center will open at 6:00 am on June 6.

All other Museum Pavilions will open at 7:30 am closing at 8:00 pm.

Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp and Magazine Streets will be closed to all traffic on June 6, 2014 from 6:00 am-5:00 pm

6:30 am 7:15 am

H-Hour Ceremony

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Join us for an emotional commemoration of the Allied landings at Normandy with James Carville at the exact time of the invasion including a presentation of D-Day veteran oral histories from the Museum's collection. This event is free and open to the public.

8:00 am-9:30 am

Lecture and Book Signing Dr. Lyle W. Dorsett, The Soul Needs Training Too:Military Chaplains Help Prepare Troops for Operation Overlord

US Freedom Pavilion- The Boeing Center

Dr. Dorsett, author of Serving God and Country: United States Military Chaplains in World War II, will explore the role of chaplains at D-Day.

8:00 am 7:00 pm

Beyond All Boundaries

The Solomon Victory Theater

This exclusive 4D film, produced and narrated by Tom Hanks, features dazzling effects, CGI animation, multi-layered environments and first-person accounts from the trenches to the Home Front read by Brad Pitt, Tobey Maguire, Gary Sinise, Patricia Clarkson, Wendell Pierce and more. This film will show every hour on the hour with a final screening at 7:00 pm.

8:00 am 7:35 pm

Final Mission: The USS Tang Experience

The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Relive the last epic battle of the USS Tang, the most successful submarine in World War II for its fifth and final war patrol. This experience will run every 15, 35, and 55 after the hour with the final showing at 7:35 pm.

9:00 am 5:00 pm

D-Day Briefings - Louisiana Memorial Pavilion Museum historians and curators will report on the action at Normandy throughout the day, allowing visitors to follow the progress of the Allies.

D-Day Remembered -Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: Forbes Theater Experience the news of D-Day as those on the Home Front did through newsreels and film footage of the day.

Oral History Showcase: Stories of D-Day Veterans - Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: H. Mortimer Favrot Orientation Center Hear first-person accounts of the day with video oral histories of D-Day veterans from the Museum's collection.

Living History Corps -Battle Barksdale Parade Ground: Museum artifacts will be on display as WWII reenactors wearing the uniforms and carrying the equipment of both the Allied and Axis forces share their knowledge about the day-to-day lives of military men and women and the broader lessons of World War II.

Higgins Boat Tours -Louisiana Memorial Pavilion: An extremely rare opportunity, visitors will be allowed to board the Museum LCVP or 'Higgins Boat' as a curator explains the craft's role in the D-Day invasion.

Rockwall Adventure -Battle Barksdale Parade Ground: Kids can enjoy a rockwall adventure while Museum staff share the story of the legendary Pointe du Hoc Rangers at D-Day.

Normandy Beaches Diorama - Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

'What Does D-Day Mean to You?' -Louisiana Memorial Pavilion Share your thoughts on the lessons and legacy of D-Day. Select comments will be shared on the Museum's Blog.

10:00 am 10:30 am

US Marine Corps Brass Quintet Performance

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

A military band will perform a selection of anthems, patriotic songs and marching music.

10:30 am 12:00 pm

D-Day Ceremony

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

This commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day will include a very special presentation of the French Legion of Honor to a number of WWII veterans who helped liberate France from Nazi rule. Additionally, the ceremony will feature representatives from the Museum, Allied countries, veterans, and a local student who will honor the memory of a New Orleans soldier who lost his life on D-Day with performances by Sharon Turrentine, the Museum's Victory Belles, and the Military Band.

12:00 pm

Museum Birthday Celebration

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

We take a moment to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the Museum's grand opening on June 6, 2000, with an annual tradition of birthday cupcakes.

1:00 pm 4:00 pm

Hands-On History

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Visitors will be able to pick up and try on original and reproduction helmets, uniforms, boots, packs and other personal equipment used by American, British and German soldiers on D-Day.

1:30 pm 2:30 pm

D-Day Veterans Panel Discussion

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

A panel of D-Day veterans will share their first-hand experiences.

2:00 pm 2:30 pm

Performance The Victory Belles

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

The Museum's Victory Belles will perform patriotic favorites for visitors.

2:30 pm 3:30 pm

Lecture 'The Critical Factor: Weather on D-Day'

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Damon Singleton, New Orleans meteorologist and retired Navy, gives a talk on why bad weather pushed back the original date of D-Day. The lecture includes, from the Museum's own collection, a German weather chart from June 6, 7, and 8, 1944 that predicted the weather would be bad and no invasion was expected.

3:30 pm 5:00 pm

Lecture and Book Signing Dr. John C. McManus, The Dead and Those About to Die

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Acclaimed historian, Dr. John C. McManus shares the harrowing story of the famed Big Red One and their role in the assault on Omaha Beach in his newly released book.

6:00 pm 9:00 pm

The Andrews Brothers

Stage Door Canteen

Mistaken identities, madcap comedy, romance and musical treasures fill this sweet and hilarious show. It's 1943 in the South Pacific and, tonight, The Andrews Sisters headline the big USO show. But when a flu outbreak quarantines the girls, stagehands Max, Lawrence and Patrick, along with pin-up girl Peggy Jones, hatch a plan to save the day! Add spectacular dining by the American Sector restaurant for the ultimate experience!

6:30 pm 7:30 pm

Baton Rouge Concert Band Performance Battle

Barksdale Parade Ground

A 60-piece band will perform a selection of anthems, patriotic songs and marching music.

8:00 pm 10:00 pm

Outdoor Film Screening Band of Brothers, Episodes 1 & 2 Battle

Barksdale Parade Ground

This free film screening includes the first two episodes of the award-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers shown outdoors in the shadow of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Showtime is at 8:00 pm. The American Sector will be on hand with food and beverage available for purchase. No outside refreshments will be allowed. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets. Seating is first-come-first-serve. This event is free and open to the public.

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