On June 6, 1944, an enormous Allied naval and airborne armada put ashore and filled the skies along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline occupied by entrenched German forces.
Operation Overlord, also known as D-Day, represented the start to a comprehensive effort to recapture German-occupied European territories. The scale of this campaign was absolutely massive, involving 160,000 troops, more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft.
Although it resulted in the deaths of 9,000 Allied soldiers, the success of the D-Day invasion marked a turning point in World War II, the beginning of the long, slow march to Berlin and the cessation of fighting in the war’s European Theater.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and in honor of this historic milestone, the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater will present three special screenings of D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 on June 6, 7 and 8. Narrated by renowned journalist and author Tom Brokaw, D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 pays tribute to those who gave their lives to safeguard democratic ideals and put an end to tyrannical fascism.
“What I was drawn to in this film is that it tells us the story of D-Day in a way that gives such clarity to one of the most important events in the history of mankind,” Brokaw says. “I originally thought this was going to be another traditional documentary featuring grainy black and white footage, but as soon as I saw the first minutes of this film on the giant screen in 3D, I found it irresistible.”
D-Day 3D is one small way of honoring the countless multitudes who participated in — and especially those who were lost as a result of — a conflict whose impact is still being felt today, explains writer/director Pascal Vuong.
“We wanted to make a film to pay tribute to the millions of men and women, soldiers and civilians, who gave their lives for our freedom 70 years ago,” Vuong says. “Regardless of nationality, virtually everyone today has a parent, grandparent or even a great-grandparent with a connection to World War II.
“I thought for a long time about how to produce a large format documentary on this subject and finally found my own way of telling this complex story to family audiences using a brand-new ‘cocktail,’ mixing innovative film techniques.”
As a result of their courageous actions during the invasion, 12 U.S. soldiers — including Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the eldest son of President Teddy Roosevelt — were awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest and most prestigious military decoration conferred on a member of the armed forces.
Honoring the bravery and sacrifices of these four men and approximately 3,500 other Medal of Honor recipients is the mission of the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. A portion of proceeds from the Aquarium’s D-Day screenings, up to $5,000, will be donated to support the anticipated grand opening of the Heritage Center in downtown Chattanooga next spring.
“We are honored to partner with the Tennessee Aquarium to share this important film, which marks the heroism and sacrifices of the thousands of United States military personnel who participated in the D-Day Invasion,” says Rear Admiral Noah Long. “We specifically honor the 12 servicemen who were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on that day. This film depicts the core values common to Medal of Honor recipients: patriotism, citizenship, courage, integrity, commitment, and sacrifice. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Aquarium to share this incredible story”.
D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 will be shown at 11 a.m. on June 6, 7 and 8. The IMAX 3D Theater’s lobby will host an exhibition of military equipment and memorabilia provided by the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, including a backpack used by Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss. A World War II Jeep, owned by the Coolidge family, will be on display outside the theater.
Tickets may be purchased online by visiting https://www.tnaqua.org/plan-your-visit/ticket-information/
Learn more about the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center at http://mohm.org
The D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 official trailer is here: https://youtu.be/eCawutT0M7g