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The National D-Day Memorial Foundation is moving forward after news that the National Park Service will not be taking over the monument. After four years of study, research, and conversations with numerous Park Service officials, the determination has been made that the Memorial does not meet NPS criteria.
“This does not come as a surprise to us,” stated April Cheek-Messier with the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. “Over the past several years, we came to the conclusion that this was not necessarily the best fit for the Memorial as funding for the park service has become increasingly restricted and they have numerous sites to maintain. We quickly became aware that a take-over by the park service would have resulted in a significant decrease in the number of educational initiatives currently offered, seasonal visitation, and other changes that we felt would not be beneficial to the visitor. The board of directors, staff and volunteers at the monument agree that the best decision has been reached and we will continue to press ahead and seek new ways to sustain the monument,” stated Cheek-Messier in a statement regarding the decision.
One reason the Park Service made their determination was based on the conclusion that the Memorial was being managed efficiently already and that the educational events and programs put on by the Memorial were extremely successful. Due to funding issues, NPS might not be able to replicate the quality or quantity of such programming. As the report specified, “the Foundation is adequately protecting the Memorial’s resources and providing for educational experiences and public enjoyment. The study team is unable to conclude that NPS management is clearly superior to existing management and, therefore, would not meet the need for direct NPS management.”
The report went on to say that “ The National D-Day Memorial Foundation has managed the site since its creation. Although budgets have been an ongoing concern, the Memorial has remained open for public enjoyment on a year-round basis, offers a variety of educational programming, and hosts several special events throughout the year…When considering the limited resources available to the maintenance division, the staff have done a good job in keeping the site open and operational. NPS management would not necessarily provide better resource protection, visitor enjoyment, or educational and interpretive experiences. Therefore, there is no demonstrated need for NPS management for the National D-Day Memorial.”
“The Park Service expressed concern that they already manage the National WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. and felt that taking on the National D-Day Memorial would somewhat duplicate their efforts there,” stated Cheek-Messier. “We have some closure now and can truly move forward. Now more than ever however, we need continued support. We need to show our veterans that 70 years later, their story will be remembered, preserved and passed on. To do that we need the support of individuals, foundations, civic organizations as well as corporate sponsors who can assist with annual operating costs. This is our nation’s monument to D-Day. It belongs to us all and it is up to us as citizens of this great nation to make sure we can sustain it for generations to come.”
The National D-Day Memorial receives no federal or state funding and relies on donations to remain open and operating. To find out more about educational initiatives, 70th anniversary events and giving opportunities, visit www.dday.org.