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 On the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Northeastern author is on the beaches of Normandy with World War II veterans

A black and white photograph of troops storming the beaches during D-Day.
This photo is believed to show soldiers in the 1st Infantry Division going ashore in the first wave of D-Day assaults. Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert M. Sargent, U.S. Coast Guard via AP, File

World leaders, hundreds of World War II veterans and thousands of others will gather on the beaches of Normandy, France, on Thursday to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

More than 2,500 Americans died on June 6, 1944, during the largest amphibious invasion in history, an assault of over 150,000 Allied troops whose bravery helped take Europe back from Nazi Germany.

Northeastern University graduate and author Kevin Dennehy will be among those paying their respects at the American Cemetery in Normandy. 

He will be joined by President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and Britain’s Prince William.

Biden will address the American people from Pointe du Hoc, the highest point between two Allied landing beaches.

An accomplished storyteller, historian and veteran himself, Dennehy is particularly interested in interviewing the remaining World War II vets — they are in their late 90s and older now — who have traveled to Normandy for the occasion.

“There are, surprisingly, a few scores of World War II vets here,” Dennehy says. “Some are even singing (World War II) era songs and standing at 100 years old.”

Headshot of Kevin Dennehy (right) next to a book cover titled "The D-Day Visitor's Handbook."
Kevin Dennehy, who wrote the D-Day Visitor’s Handbook, is spending 80th anniversary of the invasion that turned the tide of World War II with veterans in Normandy. Courtesy photos

A Special Forces combat veteran in Afghanistan and Iraq who retired as a colonel in the National Guard, Dennehy practiced criminal law for a dozen years and has worked in journalism for more than 30 years.

He received his master’s degree in digital media from Northeastern in 2020. He later received graduate certificates in video and social media, which helped him market his  books on military history and travel, as well as his website,

Dennehy is the author of “The D-Day Visitor’s Handbook: Your Guide to the Normandy Battlefield and WWII Paris,” a best-seller on Amazon.

The battlefield guide was co-written with the late Stephen F. Powers while Dennehy was still a student at Northeastern and published on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

It was updated in October for the 80th anniversary.

The number of veterans has “been very much reduced since the 75th anniversary five years ago,” Dennehy says, pointing to the need for students and family members to collect the stories of World War II veterans before they pass away.

Dennehy was on hand to hear 99-year-old veteran Dan Graves sing “God Bless America” at a concert June 4 in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France, where cast members from the miniseries “Band of Brothers” also performed. 

It’s important to commemorate veterans’ service and their role in preserving democracy, says Dennehy, who calls the landing beaches of France “the holy grail of World War II sites.”

Dennehy says he was proud to interview World War II vets for several articles and his military travel guidebook.

“One was Charles Norman Shay, a native American from Maine, who landed in the first wave at Omaha Beach and who now lives in Normandy. He is turning 100 next month,” he says. 

A combat medic with the First Infantry Division known as the Big Red One, Shay received a Silver Star for heroism for his service. Seven years ago a turtle-shaped monument was dedicated to Shay and other native American troops on Omaha Beach.

Dennehy says he was inspired to write the guidebook on D-Day when he first traveled to Normandy to see battlegrounds in 2007.

“I didn’t know where to go and there wasn’t any guidance — you couldn’t check out a book that told you how to get around,” Dennehy told Northeastern Global News in 2019.

He says he approached Powers, a veteran history professor, and said, “‘Hey, let’s write a book.’”

The men originally self-published the book and then returned to France three years later to update it with the Skyhorse publishing company for the 75th anniversary. 

Two years after Powers died in 2020, Dennehy traveled to France to update the guidebook for the 80th anniversary. While there, he turned to people he knew in Normandy to help him with new monuments and places of interest, as well as information about restaurants and shopping.