If the Memorial’s necrology plaques provide visitors an arresting sense of the Allies’ D-Day losses; the narrative plaques give them an engaging account of what happened on and around D-Day. The term “narrative plaque” refers to plaques that address military units as well as certain naval vessels, services, organizations, individuals, etc. These plaques focus on various subjects as they relate to D-Day. Collectively they afford a breadth and depth of detail that the Memorial’s docents cannot include in an hour-long tour. Because many of them acknowledge the vast contributions of services, units, forces, etc. leading up to and flowing from the success of the D-Day invasion itself, the narrative plaques do much to buttress the Foundation’s educational efforts and add significant value to the experience of visiting the Memorial.
They also make clear that the National D-Day Memorial exists in tribute to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of all the Allied Forces taking part in Operations Overlord and Neptune on 6 June 1944. The Memorial is not an exclusive shrine to those who died on D-Day but instead a memorial honoring every soldier, sailor, airman, coastguardsman, marine, and merchant seaman from each of the nations in the AEF who, during the D-Day invasion, began the breach of Hitler’s Festung Europa.
Cast in bronze, the typical narrative plaque reproduces the pertinent shoulder patch, naval silhouette, regimental insignia, etc. in raised relief centered at the top. A brief history of the subject appears beneath the relief, and a dedicatory inscription follows, centered at the base of the plaque. Text for the narrative plaque is not prepared until a prospective donor makes a firm commitment (i.e. a donation or a donation with short-term pledge) to underwrite the desired plaque. Once the commitment is made, research and drafting proceed promptly. The narrative plaque’s text follows the Foundation’s style guidelines to ensure uniformity of appearance, tone, length, etc. Its dedicatory inscription is prepared in coordination with the donor. Production of the narrative plaque does not occur until the donor reviews and approves its layout.
Depending upon the relative strength, stature, importance, contribution, etc. of the different subjects treated as well as the constraints imposed by the Memorial’s overall decorative program, narrative plaques are produced in two sizes: 18 X 24 inches and 30 X 36 inches.
Plaques treating units that received invasion credit for D-Day are symmetrically mounted adjacent to the stairs that take visitors from the garden to the central plaza. The prominent sitting of these plaques makes sense in terms of the Memorial’s decorative and narrative programs. Plaques addressing post-D-Day subjects are emplaced along the inner and outer walls of the upper plaza.
The larger plaques represent major chapters in the history of D-Day, and they are sited prominently. For example, the plaques addressing divisions that landed on D-Day are mounted along the southern wall of the garden on either side of the bronze plaque reproducing General Eisenhower’s D-Day Order. Their arrangement on the wall mirrors the units’ deployment in Normandy. Larger plaques treating elements of the Air Force and Navy are sited with equal prominence in the areas adjacent to the landing tableau.
If you are interested in contributing to this important project, please contact the administrative offices at 540-586-3329 or 800-351-3329.