To Honor the Fallen

Prior to  their visit to Washignton, D.C. and Normandy, France, the students were reqauired to research a fallen soldier form their own communities and tell their story.  Later, when we are at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, students will read eulogies to their soldiers to honor their sacrifice.

“I am honored to have an opportunity to share my thoughts. Moreover, I am completely honored to have the opportunity to participate in this program which has been more than I ever imagined.

During the past few days, I have met some of the most intelligent people who have accomplished amazing things in their lives. Hearing about their experiences and being exposed to their wide breadth of knowledge has been absolutely incredible. From listening to the story of Mortimer Caplin, a former U.S. Navy Beach Master on Omaha Beach on D-Day, to hearing all about the Normandy deception plans from former member of the FBI, Ray Batvinis, this institute has opened my eyes to a world I had never before experienced, though I must admit, I have dreamt of it many times before.

In addition to this, being able to have a personal connection to the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice has opened my eyes to an even larger world—one much closer to home. My soldier, Arvid L. Setran, grew up in Minneapolis, MN and dreamt of going into auto mechanics at Dunwoody Institute. Today, this is where my brother attends. He too studies auto mechanics. Between the fallen soldier project, visiting monuments, and viewing films of the Normandy Invasion, this program has truly allowed me the opportunity to understand the price of freedom and, moreover, appreciate those who sacrificed their lives, for my freedom. ”

-Lacy, student, Minneapolis

“As my student, Lacy Myrman, wrote, I am honored to be a part of the National History Day (NHD) and Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Normandy Institute: Sacrifice for Freedom.  Both of us have family who served during WWII, Lacy’s grandfathers and my father, and we both enjoy studying events of the war and how it affected people at home and abroad.  As we began our studies by reading a series of books and articles, and discussing the topics with each other and then the other group members online, we became engrossed in WWII from the command decisions to the common soldier.  The research of an individual soldier is what makes this so personal for all of us.  As the weeks progressed, I enjoyed seeing the students grow, recognizing that the experience was enriching even before we left Minneapolis, MN.

Since our arrival in Washington, D.C., our classroom lectures and activities at George Washington University (GWU), field trips to the National Archives and area treasures, and discussions with participants, have enriched us further.  I wish the program were longer (!) so that we could hear the next lecture from each of our distinguished speakers.  It has been a privilege to hear remarks by Albert H. Small; Cathy Gorn; Robert Perry, Trustee of National History Day and GWU; and WWII veteran Mortimer Caplin.  It was absolutely thrilling to enjoy a reception at the French Ambassador’s Residence!  Ms. L’Helias-Delattre was so gracious to our group!

Today, we begin our preparations for our trip to France!  I know this will be a life changing experience for all of us, but especially the students.  From my own study abroad programs in Austria and France to extensive travels since I’ve been teaching, I know the importance of meeting people from around the world and going to the place where a specific event occurred.  I urge any student (or adult) who reads this to begin planning your trip outside of the U.S. as soon as possible.  There’s a wonderful world of people out there for us to meet and learn about.  And to the people in the NHD group, bon voyage!”

–Nancy Ziemer, teacher, Minneapolis

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