Alexandria Archives

Commemorate D-Day And the Women Spies Who Helped Win the War in Europe

This year we celebrate with 1940s music, dance, and General Patton

Participants in Market Square during the 2016 Alexandria-Caen D-day celebration. (Photos courtesy of the Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee)

Alexandria, VA – Swing dancers, a 1940s Jazz Band, General George Patton resurrected, Fife and Drum Corps, and the “Women Spies of D-Day” highlight Alexandria’s Annual D-Day Commemoration planned for Thursday, June 1, and Sunday, June 4.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “A good spy is worth 20,000 soldiers!” On June 1, Dr. Kim Bernard Holien will tell us about the Women Spies of D-Day and how courageous Allied women provided intelligence that enabled General Eisenhower to break through the Atlantic Wall of Hitler’s Fortress in Europe, liberating first Normandy, then France, and finally all of Western Europe. Dr. Holien will present at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street.

Dr. Holien was a historian with the U.S. Army for 34 years, receiving commendations from the late John Marsh, Secretary of the Army, and President Ronald Reagan. He is the recipient of the 2008 Joseph L. Harsh History Award from the Northern Virginia Association of Historians and the co-recipient of the 2016 T. Michael Miller Alexandria History Award from the Alexandria Historical Society.

His father served as an Army medical officer during WWII and cared for many D-Day wounded on their return to England, later serving on President Eisenhower’s Medical Staff. The lecture begins at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 and include a wine reception after the lecture. Purchase tickets online via

The D-Day commemoration continues from 1-4 pm on June 4 at Market Square. The program will include period swing music and exhibition dancers, static displays and reenactors, the U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps, the Alexandria Citizens Band, and a formal ceremony with Mayor Wilson and city officials. The Market Square activities are free.

An 1890 map of Caen, France.

This year marks the city’s 13th annual D-Day commemoration, sponsored and executed by the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee. Alexandria and the city of Caen, France, have participated in shared cultural and educational exchanges since 1991 under the auspices of the Sister Cities International nonprofit organization. Today, the two cities nurture a bond of shared cultural engagement through activities including student exchanges, intern exchanges, lecture series, special events, and the annual D-Day commemorative events.

After the Allies landed on nearby beaches 79 years ago, Caen, in western Normandy, saw some of the heaviest fighting that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

“General Eisenhower led the Normandy landings that won the war in Europe, and as president, he helped create the Sister Cities program through which Caen coordinates the D-Day events,” noted Kerem Bilge, the committee volunteer who coordinates the D-Day events. “Telling the story of the landings and commemorating them is one way the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee highlights and deepens the Alexandria-Caen relationship. We look forward to it every year.”

Dr. Kim Bernard Holien

The June 4 Commemoration at Market Square is made possible through the generous support of the Jason Yates Companies, Alexandria Toyota, Ting Internet, Onelife Fitness, Mr. and Mrs. Doug John, Alexandria Radio Club, and Mr. Jan Maas.

ICYMI: 79 Years: Alexandria Honors D-Day Anniversary June 4

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