On the long, sandy Lake Erie beach at Township Park in Conneaut, Ohio, the land forms a bluff that closely resembles Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. It is on that stretch of shoreline in Northeast Ohio that spectators gather to witness over 1800 living history reenactors bring to life the memory of June 6, 1944 — D-Day.
D-Day Ohio is quickly becoming America’s premier living history experience. The free public event is a highly realistic and educational reenactment of the WWII European Theater of Operations and the D-Day Normandy invasion. The commemoration is to honor the sacrifices made by all those involved in this campaign and World War II.
Since 1999, this re-creation of the events surrounding the allied landings on the coast of Normandy, France has thrilled thousands of spectators. Hundreds of re-enactors from across the United States and Canada assemble on the 250-yard long beach and sloping adjacent terrain, which closely resemble Normandy’s Omaha Beach. Other areas of the park provide secluded venues for skitss of inland skirmishes between the occupying German soldiers, French resistance fighters, and Allied parachute and Glider infantry.
Spectators have an excellent and unobstructed view of the battlefield. Encampments of Allied and Axis units provide spectators the entire 1940’s military experience. Great attention is given to participant authenticity to create a living history of WWII. Beyond the reenactment of the beach attacks by WWII re-enactors, an encampment of both Allied and Axis troops is held to share the daily life of the soldiers of both armies.
Through the encampments, battle reenactments, lectures, displays and tours, the public gains an understanding of the events that occurred prior to June 6, 1944, and the sacrifices made during and after the invasion. Sea side, home life, and camp life of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who participated in the actual landings are realistically re-created with original equipment, uniforms, and vehicles.
The event is more than just camouflage and blank artillery shots. Those who attend are transported back 74 years and can interact with the reenactors. Peek into the tents where soldiers sleep and walk through the canteen where they eat. Spectators can step onto a WWII LCVP landing craft (a.k.a. Higgins Boat), see a tank battle and watch planes, like Georgie’s Gal, fly overhead.
Soldiers will march in formation and WWII vehicles will be both on display and in use. Witness the firing of some of the largest and most feared weapons of the time that proved instrumental and deadly to troops on both sides. This is a history lesson that cannot be taught in the classroom. There is even a 1940’s USO-style show and dance which features a live “Big Band” orchestra.
Special recognition is given to all U.S. veterans, particularly those who served in WWII. The event welcomes all our former swabbys, dog faces, leathernecks, wingnuts, cunnuckers, Rosie the Riveters, Waac’s, Waves, Wasps and all others of the Greatest Generation to reunite!
The 2018 event takes place on August 17 and 18, rain or shine. Entry is free, but donations are appreciated. Visit www.ddayohio.us for more information.