Ball State University’s Kevin Smith believes that 75 years after D-Day, the relationship between America and western Europe is currently strained.
June 6, 2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, a milestone that is expected to represent the last large gathering of D-Day veterans around the globe.
“We have taken for granted on both sides of the Atlantic that the postwar stability of Europe would continue indefinitely, and that the United States would be a willing guarantor of that,” said Smith, a Ball State history professor. “Both are now in question, not for the first time, but in a new way. It is easy to forget how critical Europeans were of President Reagan in the 1980s and how angry Americans were at Europeans (especially the French—remember “freedom fries”?) during the Iraq War in the early 2000s.
“A new generation has arisen with different priorities and viewpoints, again on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said. “Incorporating and addressing their concerns while retaining good relations will be a challenge that we can meet, but it will require effort and thoughtful attention. “
Smith’s research is anchored in examining the Anglo-American relationship during the Second World War and the history of American foreign relations.
“I had the privilege of being present in 1994 at the Eisenhower Library (and burial place for the former president) in Kansas for a scholarly conference for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, and to be present in June 2009 at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia for the 65th anniversary during another conference,” he said. “This anniversary means a great deal to me, and the current tensions sadden me. But, there is that the possibility that we can recover from current strains in the relationship.”