Skip to Main Content

General Dwight D. Eisenhower Takes Responsibility for the D-Day Invasion

45 min

Why is it important for a leader to take responsibility in a republic of self-governing citizens? 

Students read and analyze primary documents, including two statements that General Eisenhower wrote.

Students identify and explain why it is important for a leader to take responsibility in a self-governing republic.   

Educator Resources

  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower Answer Key

Student Handouts

  • General Eisenhower’s Two Statements
  • Responsibility: General Dwight D. Eisenhower Takes Responsibility Essay
  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower Primary Source Discussion Questions
  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower Virtue in Action
  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower Responsibility Worksheet Writing Prompt

  • Republic
  • Self-governance
  • Civic virtue
  • D-Day invasion


Ambrose, Stephen. Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890-1952. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.

D’Este, Carlo. Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life. New York: Henry Holt, 2002.

Eisenhower, David. Eisenhower at War, 1943-1945. New York: Random House, 1986.

Eisenhower, Dwight D. Crusade in Europe. 1948.

Johnson, Paul. Eisenhower: A Life. New York: Viking, 2014.

Korda, Michael. Ike: An American Hero. New York: Harper, 2007.

Perret, Geoffrey. Eisenhower. New York: Random House, 1999.

Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace. New York: Random House, 2012.

Students will need at least some basic background information regarding World War II and the circumstances which influenced the General’s decisions. If this lesson is not used in conjunction with a study of WW II the teacher would need to provide some additional sources and instruction for students to fully understand the significance of this event. 

What is a republic? Students identify and explain why it is important for leaders to take responsibility in a self-governing republic. 

Students read the background brief about the circumstances in which the General found himself on June 6, 1944.

Students read and discuss the first public statement given to the troops prior to the invasion.

Students read and discuss the private “In case of failure” letter.

Students compare and contrast the public and private letters and discuss the importance of taking responsibility.   

Debrief the student responses with a larger class discussion.

Assuming the students worked in pairs, the teacher might also ask them what additional questions they may have regarding the General’s decision to order the invasion.

These questions might provide exploration into the importance of leadership in times of crisis.

The teacher might also show the US Army clip on YouTube of General Eisenhower’s actual speech at the end of the lesson in order to get their reaction to a different medium. 

Students analyze a current newspaper article and identify a leader (local, state or federal) taking responsibility for their actions. 

Students provide the link to the article and answer who, what, when, where, why, and how questions regarding the leader, and issue. 

They also discuss why this is important in this particular instance. 

What does the citizenry expect from this leader?  

Students conduct research into current events and create a comparison chart of good leadership and poor leadership in countries with democratic and authoritarian governments. 

This exploration could be taken further into a discussion of media coverage and transparency when it comes to leadership in different forms of government.

What do we expect of our leaders?

Student Handouts

Related Resources