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Remembering D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Pivotal Battle That Changed WW II

Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy, France — the pivotal battle that changed the course of World War II.

Much attention will be paid this week to those who took part in D-Day, including the man who planned the invasion: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who grew up in Abilene.

While his parents were against war, Eisenhower eventually became the Supreme Commander of all Allied forces in Europe. Ike, as he was called, delivered a message to his troops, just before he launched the D-Day invasion.

"The eyes of the world are upon you," he said. "The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."

Some historians have argued that the German defeat on D-Day was inevitable, but University of Kansas history professor Adrian Lewis disagrees.

"We could have lost," Lewis says. "If they had known the exact location of the landing, they could have met us there with overwhelming force."

Eisenhower shied away from taking credit for the D-Day victory, preferring instead to pay tribute to his fighting troops.

J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio at the Univeristy of Kansas. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. Before joining KPR in 1995, Schafer spent 10 years as a commercial radio and TV newsman. During his career, he's filed stories for nearly every major radio news network in the nation including ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, UPI, the Mutual Broadcasting System, NPR and the BBC. This seems to impress no one. At KPR, he produces feature stories, interviews and newscast items and edits the work of others. In the fall of 2000, he performed contract work for the U.S. State Department, traveling to central Asia to teach broadcast journalism at newly independent radio stations in the former Soviet Union. One of his passions is Kansas; learning about and promoting the state’s rich heritage, people and accomplishments. Schafer gives presentations about Kansas to various organizations around the state to remind residents about our awesome history and incredible people. A native of Great Bend, he studied journalism and mass communications at Barton County Community College and at the University of Kansas. He was also an exchange student to Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. The “J.” in J. Schafer stands for Jeremy, but he doesn’t really care for that name. He also enjoys the pretentiousness of using just a single initial for a first name!