Press Releases | General Education

On 70th Anniversary of D-Day, Survey Finds Many Americans Know Little About the Fateful Battle

June 5, 2014
  • A quarter of Americans don’t know that D-Day occurred during WWII.
  • Less than half know that Roosevelt was president at the time.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni today released a survey finding that Americans have a serious case of historical amnesia when it comes to knowledge of D-Day. On the 70th anniversary of that crucial day, even college graduates fail to know important historical information.

The multiple choice survey found that only 54% of Americans know that Dwight Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied forces. Even among college graduates, 28% could not correctly identify General Eisenhower.  Less than half of Americans surveyed knew that Roosevelt was the president at the time. And 15% said the D-Day invasion happened at Pearl Harbor—including one in 10 college graduates.     

“What we have here is a tragic case of historical amnesia that is not only dangerous for America’s future, but also a slap in the face for all those who fought so valiantly for America’s freedoms,” said Anne Neal, ACTA president.

The study, performed by GfK Custom Research, also found that only 70% of recent college graduates knew that D-Day occurred during World War II, compared to 98% of those 65 and older with a college degree.

Dr. Michael Poliakoff, ACTA’s vice president of policy, oversees the What Will They Learn? study, which found that only 18% of colleges and universities nationwide require students to take even a single course in American history or government.

“We are allowing students to graduate college with the historical knowledge of a twelfth grader,” he said. “Not a single top liberal arts college except the military academies and only five of the top 50 public universities require even one survey of American history. We aren’t adequately preparing the next generation for the challenges of career and community with this apathetic approach to our national heritage.  These college graduates are unlikely to understand the cost of maintaining our nation’s freedom.”


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