Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

THE EYES OF THE WORLD: FROM D-DAY TO VE DAY Announced At The John F. Kennedy Center Opera House

The final eleven months of WWII in Europe told through the eyes of Ernest Hemingway, Lee Miller, Robert Capa and a young American intelligence officer.

Following sold-out performances at Carnegie Hall, historian and narrator John Monsky brings his groundbreaking American History Unbound series to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House with The Eyes of the World: From D-Day to VE Day on Saturday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Through music, archival photos, video, and personal letters, The Eyes of the World tells the dramatic story of the final eleven months of World War II in Europe through the words and images of Ernest Hemingway, LIFE magazine war photographer Robert Capa, Vogue model-turned-photojournalist Lee Miller, and a young soldier named Jerry, who lands on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. The journeys of these four remarkable figures intersect as they serve as the "eyes for the world" from England, France, Luxembourg, and Germany, while crossing paths with such fascinating characters as Pablo Picasso and Hemingway's wife, war correspondent Martha Gellhorn.

The Eyes of the World also recounts war experiences of Black Americans, often lost to history: the all-Black 761st Tank Battalion, known as the "Black Panthers," and the all-Black, all-female, 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion tasked with sorting years of backlogged mail for troops, desperate for news from home. Their accomplishments are heroic, as they fight in a segregated army, often experiencing the freedom abroad that Jim Crow laws deny them at home. While it will be many years before their contributions are recognized, in March 2022, legislation was passed to honor the 6888th with a Congressional Gold Medal. One of its recipients, 102-year-old Private Cresencia Garcia, is scheduled to appear and be celebrated at the Kennedy Center on June 4.

On June 5, 1944, just one day before D-Day, Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower told American forces, "The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you." While D-Day marked a turning point and pathway to victory, the landings and battles that followed would be among the most brutal for the American troops and Allied forces.

Throughout those bloody months, the four figures in The Eyes of the World seem to never look away. Robert Capa risks his life to capture the harrowing first hours on Omaha Beach. Vogue's Lee Miller, who was among the 127 accredited female journalists covering the war, reports from the frontlines and records some of the most resonant and powerful images of Dachau. Jerry, a 25-year-old intelligence officer who will see ten consecutive months of battle, writes vivid short stories and letters home about the violence and tragedy he observes up close. And Ernest Hemingway, who had sounded an early warning about the rise of fascism, reports on-and participates in-the action.

Ian Weinberger (music director of Hamilton on Broadway) serves as music supervisor and leads the 58-piece Orchestra of St. Luke's, performing his arrangements of music from Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, as well as original arrangements created for this performance. Top Broadway artists Adam Jacobs (Aladdin), Kristolyn Lloyd (Dear Evan Hansen), Kate Rockwell (Mean Girls), and Daniel Yearwood (Hamilton) perform popular and often profound music of the era from Glenn Miller and Edith Piaf to Woody Guthrie, among others. The immersive concert experience is directed by Peter Flynn.

The American History Unbound series was developed with the creative input of the New-York Historical Society and "Carnegie Hall Presents" programming. This production is presented by the American Battle Monuments Commission and the New-York Historical Society.

"My research on a single flag carried on a Higgins craft to Utah Beach on D-Day became the through-line for my research on the last months of the war in Europe," said John Monsky. "As I followed its trajectory, it led me to four remarkable characters, witnesses to the war. As their stories unfolded, we discovered how they came together in some of the war's most dark and haunting places. It's the work of courageous figures like these who define how history is recorded, and our heroes recognized and celebrated. We are deeply honored that the American Battle Monuments Commission has enabled us to share these many stories of valor in the nation's capital."

Robert J. Dalessandro, Deputy Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, said, "'The Eyes of the World' explores a series of complex historical events which turned the tide in our struggle with Nazi Germany through powerful human stories." He continued, "Today's world events are a testament that history does not repeat itself, but it certainly echoes through time; we are unceasingly reminded of the fragility of democracy and freedom. Presented just days before the anniversary of D-Day, 'The Eyes of the World' inspires us to salute the men, women, and families who have sacrificed for our freedom and encourages young people to understand what came before them, particularly as we lose the connection to that generation of great Americans who gave so much."

Several American flags that landed on the beaches of Normandy and one carried into battle by the "Black Panthers" will be presented throughout the program.

About John Monsky:

John Monsky-the creator, writer, and narrator of the American History Unbound series-is a lawyer and historian who lectures at the New-York Historical Society and Carnegie Hall. He appears at The Kennedy Center Opera House, following sold-out lectures of The Vietnam War: At Home and Abroad (2018), We Chose to Go to the Moon (2019), and The Eyes of the World (2021), at Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage and Zankel Hall.

Monsky's reverence for historical ephemera is at the core of his lectures, with his meticulous research of flags and other tangible objects driving his narratives exploring landmark events in our history. The flag collection, which Monsky began as a child with a kerchief carried by President Theodore Roosevelt, has been featured in The New Yorker and Art & Antiques Magazine.

In 2019, Monsky was honored by the New-York Historical Society, where he developed and workshopped many of his lectures and serves as co-vice chair. He has recently appeared on CNN and written a New York Times Op-Ed, providing historical perspective on current events.

Monsky graduated from Yale College as a history major, where he was awarded the White Prize in History and the Deforest Oratory Prize. After attending Harvard Law School and working as a law clerk, he served as an attorney for the US Senate Congressional Committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair. Monsky is a partner and general counsel of Oak Hill Capital, an investment firm.

The American History Unbound series combines live music performed by celebrated Broadway actors and a full orchestra, film, and photography from the National Archives, and historically significant flags and material culture to explore watershed moments in American history. Created and narrated by historian John Monsky, lectures to date, have explored D-Day, the Vietnam War, and the race to the moon, and have been presented at Carnegie Hall, the New-York Historical Society, The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, NY, the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, FL, and Yale University.

In performance of its mission, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) administers, operates, and maintains 26 permanent American military cemeteries and 32 federal memorials, monuments, and markers. Four memorials are located in the United States. The remaining memorials and all of the ABMC cemeteries are located in 10 foreign countries, the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the British dependency of Gibraltar. More than 207,000 US war dead from World War I and World War II are commemorated at ABMC sites; this includes more than 93,000 interments and memorializes nearly 79,000 for World War II.

The Artists:

John Monsky, Historian, Creator, and Narrator

Orchestra of St. Luke's

Ian Weinberger, Music Supervisor/Conductor/Arrangements

Adam Jacobs, Vocalist

Kristolyn Lloyd, Vocalist

Kate Rockwell, Vocalist

Daniel Yearwood, Vocalist

Peter Flynn, Director

Program to Include:
John Kander / Fred Ebb "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret
John Williams "Revisiting Normandy" from Saving Private Ryan
Woody Guthrie "What Are We Waiting On"
JOSEPH GARLAND / WINDY MANONE / Andy Razaf "In the Mood"
ERSKINE HAWKINS / JULIAN DASH / Bill Johnson / BUDDY FEYNE "Tuxedo Junction"
Mack Gordon / Harry Warren "Chattanooga Choo Choo"

John Philip Sousa / HAROLD ARBERG "The Caissons Go Rolling Along"

ÉDITH PIAF / LOUIGUY / Marguerite Monnot "La Vie en Rose"
FRIEDRICH HOLLAENDER / Frank Loesser "The Boys in the Back Room"
John Williams "Hymn to the Fallen" from Saving Private Ryan

Learn more at Kennedy-Center.org.



Related Articles View More Washington, DC Stories


More Hot Stories For You