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Idaho Military History Museum commemorates D-Day and the storming of Normandy

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jun 08, 2024

The Idaho Military History Museum is hosting a special event on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. If you missed this free event on Saturday, it also takes place on Sunday, June 9.

"D-Day is one of the most iconic events of World War II," said Charles Read of the Idaho Military Historical Society. "We are commemorating that, but we are also inviting people to come back as we are a free admission museum."

The event featured a live cannon demonstration

D-Day happened on June 6, 1944 as allied forces invaded the beaches of Normandy in France. Less than a year later, the Germans surrendered. Last October retired Lt. Colonel Rick Johnson of the U.S. Army visited these hallowed grounds.

"I had to go wade out in the water to just kind of get a feel for looking out where all those ships were then turning around and looking up on the bluffs," said Johnson. "I thought it didn’t matter whether you were German or American, it was going to be a bad day."

A map of the beaches of Normandy

Johnson bagged up some of the sand and sent it as a Christmas present to the other soldiers he served with. Since he was a veteran, he also got to visit the American grave site in Normandy.

"When you think about the 10,000 graves of those fallen warriors that we lost that are in that cemetery, it brings tears to your eyes," Johnson said.

Johnson prepares to give his team the fire command

Johnson brought his collection of historical memorabilia, as did several other veterans. The D-Day commemoration brings a good opportunity to learn about history as Johnson led the live cannon demonstration at 11 a.m. There is also a small arms fire demonstration at 1 p.m.

"This event is centered around World War II, so you have British, American and Allied stuff," said Read. "We also have some Axis power stuff and in the museum itself there is a lot more information about World War II, artifacts and a lot of weapons displays."

History comes alive at the museum

The D-Day commemoration event happens again on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will again have live fire demonstrations, a food truck and the kids can get their faces painted in camouflage.