D-Day Warriors: American Indians in the Military

Category: Exhibitions

Exhibition Summary

Temporarily closed

All ages


Temporarily closed

All ages

Honor Native soldiers who served during World War II and throughout US history.

On June 6, 1944, Charles Shay landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. As a young Army medic, he was one of an estimated 500 American Indian soldiers who participated in the D-Day invasion to retake France in the fight against Nazi Germany.

In D-Day Warriors: American Indians in the Military, hear Shay’s story and explore the important role that Native servicemen and servicewomen continue to play in the armed forces.

The exhibition is presented in both English and Spanish. La exhibición está presentada en inglés y español.


A young woman wearing blue and red ceremonial attire stands in shallow water. A red powdery substance floats on the surface of the water to her left. In the background, the sky is slightly overcast with some blue sky.

At the dedication of the Charles Shay Memorial Park in Normandy, American Indians and French youth performed a Water Ceremony, sprinkling tobacco over the area and offering prayers.

Ana Myers

Remembering their service and sacrifice

Now, 75 years after D-Day, 94-year-old Shay continues to visit the Normandy coast to remember all who fought and were killed in the invasion. He helped create a memorial park, where a turtle carved from granite represents Mother Earth, which Native people fight to protect.

Every soldier on this beach was a hero, regardless of military unit, rank, or wave….We will not forget their sacrifice.

Charles Norman Shay, Penobscot elder and Retired Master Sergeant

Through photography, historical accounts, and video interviews, get a personal look at Shay’s experience—and gain a broader understanding of American Indians’ service in the military, past and present.