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

45 min

Guiding Questions

  • 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.   

  • 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 WWII, the teacher would need to provide some additional sources and instruction for students to fully understand the significance of this event. 

Have students read the Responsibility: General Dwight D. Eisenhower Takes Responsibility for D-Day Invasion essay with a partner, and provide the Discussion Questions for them to think about while reading.

Lead a full-class about the narrative, drawing on the Discussion Questions for direction.

Have students read through the General Eisenhower’s Two Statements primary sources in pairs or small groups.

Allow students compare and contrast the public and private letters and discuss the importance of taking responsibility using the questions at the bottom of the handout.   

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. 

Have students complete the Responsibility Worksheet essay prompt.

Have 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

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