Ready to have your intelligence insulted? The quote that's the title of today's blog would have been prominently placed somewhere along the WWII Memorial in D.C. It was decided, somewhere along the line, that Americans wouldn't understand what it's all about. Do you get it? "We gave you our lives, now give them their meaning." Hopefully you do! If not, think about it and it will creep up on you when you least expect it.
Definitely the highlight of the day today was being part of a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the World War II Memorial that included the playing of "Taps." This was followed up with a special VIP tour by three members of the Friends of the National WWII Memorial. Both Matti and myself have toured the memorial before, her back in 2009 as a 7th grader and myself on multiple occasions. We learned a lot in all those visits but all those put together didn't match what we learned today. If you haven't been to D.C. you need to get out here and plan on spending at least an hour at the WWII Memorial
Leading the tour was James Percoco, Director of Education with the Friends of the National World War II Memorial. He is a very passionate advocate of the Memorial and has done a lot to make it accessible to everybody. Visit their website for photos, lesson plans, primary sources and a great deal of information.
http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/ The website is also soon to be home to first-person interviews with WWII veterans.
The highlight of the morning was a fantastic lecture delivered by the highly-acclaimed and decorated Colonel Harry Tomlin, U.S. Army (Ret.) and a professor in the U.S. Army War College Strategic Art Program. This guy doesn't teach undergrads who think war is cool...he teaches high ranking military officials who are close to graduating and becoming the decision makers of our country's armed forces.
Col. Tomlin led us through the strategy that led up to Operation Overlord, the official name of the D-Day Invasion undertaken by the United States, British and Canadian forced. This man is very quotable and a great speaker who left Matti and myself with tons of notes. What struck me first was one of the opening stories he told:
"This is an amazing story of human resilience. My father was on Omaha beach...and as the son of a veteran of this it was a life changing event for him and we are still living off of the impact of their actions. We are the beneficiaries of what they did and what they taught us. There is no place where I feel closer to my father than I do on that beach," Tomlin said.
It was an especially touching thing to hear him say because it was Father's Day. He also had some good advice I hope Matti and the other students take into consideration," "When nations think with their heart; with their emotions, they often get themselves in trouble. It might feel good to plant your flag on the beach but if you can't get off it you can get into trouble.:
Something else Tomlin said also really stuck with us, "I am not a historian but I've become a student of history because it is necessary and interesting. There is his-story and her-story.
As you look at the history of anything, start collecting dots, and start connecting the dots because you'll get a better perspective on the reality of an event or time in history," he said.
Monday looks to be as busy and educational as today was with the added bonus of possibly sliding out to the Smithsonian Museum near Dulles for some vintage aircraft. Please drop a note if you've read this far.
With you in this project, going to Normandy and eulogizing your veteran, you are giving them the voice they never had--and that's really important and really powerful. You will give the young men who are dead their voices."
"As you participate in this most admirable program, remember that the vision of what you see will pass through your souls and you will pass that along to others. This cannot happen again."
We are going to get to do history unlike anything else you have probably done before. You've done a ton of reading and research but I promise you when we are at Omaha Beach you will get a different feeling of what this is all about and it will mean more to you than anything you've ever read in a book."