By Hunter Scott, National Youth Representative, World War II Veterans Committee
The â€œDâ€ in D-Day
Perhaps one of the greatest unsolved mysteries surrounding the Normandy Invasion is the meaning of the D in D-Day. As I was polling a few of my friends at the University of North Carolinaâ€”Chapel Hill, I found that they, too, were a bit perplexed by the question. Nonetheless, came up with some very unique answers. â€œDoomsday? Death-Day? Dismay-Day? Disaster-Day? Dispatch-Day?â€ Or just plain â€œDang-good-time-to-invade-Day.â€ The list of responses could really go on for, well, as many pertinent â€œDâ€ words as there are in the dictionary, but let me offer a few more realistic suggestions. Hopefully this column will finally answer the number one asked question at the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans.
The D question is by no means a new question. In fact, even in 1944 many people were wondering about the meaning behind the D. According to the D-Day Museum, the D in D-Day stands forâ€”are you ready for this? â€œDay.â€ Seems a little redundant, eh? Day-Day. It is hard to believe that after all the creative guessing by my fellow Tar Heels, the meaning of the letter D was right in front of us all along. The Army has said that the D in D-Day is more alliteration of the D sound and stands for the â€œDayâ€ of engagement or the opening day of an event. For instance, H-Hour of D-Day would mean that a plan is to be executed at a certain hour, H, on a particular day, D. In the case of the Normandy Invasion, D-Day was June 6, 1944. For any day after D-Day, one would simply say D plus the number of days had passed since the invasion. The day after D-Day would be D+1; the week after would be D+7, and so on.
The letter D stood for the opening â€œDayâ€ of a scheduled mission, and was often referred to as D-Day if a date had not yet been set, or, for security matters, if those in â€œthe knowâ€ wanted to keep the date a top secret piece of information. The term D-Day is most commonly associated with perhaps the most well known battle of World War II, the battle of Normandy; however, the actual term is more generic. D-Day is a general term which refers to the beginning day of any engagement.
Historians and etymologists have been debating the meaning of the D for more than fifty years. Hopefully this column has shed some light on the more widely-accepted meaning of the letter. Now those doomsday or dispatch-day traditions can finally be silenced. For now you know.