Post by: Kelly Wilhelmi, Gabrielle Farrow
On June 24th the Normandy participants enjoyed two enlightening lectures. The first about the involvement of France in World War II, and the second about the importance of Operation Neptune. The lectures throughout the program are designed to be educational and these two in particular put us right into the experience of D-Day. The lecture of France’s involvement was interesting because it covered topics that many of us had never heard about before. The Resistance is one example that comes to mind. It was eye-opening to hear about how people would be tried or women’s heads would be shaved for suspected collaboration. We were shown a picture of a woman whose head had been shaved. In the picture she was holding her baby while others turned their heads to her. The second lecture was about Operation Neptune. During this lesson we were shown the Allies’s strengths and weaknesses compared to the Germans’. It was shocking to see the comparison. In terms of military defense, the Germans were more prepared, however the Allies had had more men and could withstand more casualties.
Later we attended a meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The meeting was held in a beautiful room called the Indian Treaty Room. The room used to be a Naval Library, but now is used for formal receptions. All of the Normandy scholar students presented briefings over their Silent Heroes. Among those in attendance were Albert H. Small, Mortimer Chaplin, Susan Eisenhower, Paulette Aniskoff, Sloan Gibson, and Koby Langely. Every student was honored with the Presidential Challenge Coin. We took pictures with Ms. Eisenhower, Mr. Chaplin, and Mr. Small. It was an incredible event that none of us will ever forget.