chapter  3
65 Pages

Stephen E. Ambrose and Brokaw’s 1994 D-Day Commemoration

ByJonathan M. Bullinger

Ten years after Reagan and Brokaw’s successful 1984 moment, the U.S. had successfully won a short Gulf War I, was somewhat “lost” after the end of the Cold War in 1991, entered a new twenty-four-hour cable television media ecosystem, and felt obligated to both match and better Reagan’s 1984 blueprint for 1994’s fiftieth anniversary of D-Day. This chapter discusses how historian Stephen E. Ambrose consciously planned to publish his book D-Day to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary and how his transition from historian to popular collector and framer of veteran oral histories greatly influenced Tom Brokaw, President Clinton, and Steven Spielberg. This chapter also shows how the three major television networks coverage of the anniversary increased from twenty-three stories in 1984 to eighty-one in 1994. It also interprets NBC’s coverage of the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day from May 27 through June 6. In addition, the chapter covers President Clinton’s commemorative D-Day speeches and compares their language to Reagan and Ambrose’s to show the influence of both men on the 1994 moment.