Special thanks to the Friends of the World War II Memorial for sharing some of my photographs from our day on Sunday. They also promoted our blog and it's been getting a lot of traffic! Be sure to visit their website and LIKE them on Facebook!! Lots of great resources for teachers and WWII buffs! http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/
Photos from the American History Smoithsonian
GEORGE WASHNGTON UNIVERSITY--MOUNT VERNON CAMPUS--Today was a very interesting day loaded with tons of great information from two national experts in their field, time at the Smithsonians, and then an evening spent watching a documentary made in 1945 about the European Theatre of WWII hosted by the man in command, none other than General Eisenhower. Here's a quick synopsis of the day and a little teaser for what's happening on Tuesday...
That's the bottom line message in a very fascinating lecture delivered by Lt. Alex Smith (U.S. Navy) in his lecture titled "The Environment's Impact on Overlord--There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men." Mr. H. and Matti are both science nerds in addition to being history nerds so this was an awesome amalgamation of the two subjects.
Lt. Smith didn't mention it specifically, but it's no coincidence that so many failed military campaigns are tied to weather conditions. His lecture focused on the preparations that went into making Operation Overlord a success.
The "so what" of Lt. Smith's message basically was this: working around the tides did not turn the tide of war but it definitely played a significant role in the success of the overall mission. "Overlord is more than troops landing on the beach with valor," he said. "You have to appreciate the nine months of planning just to be able to reach the point of invasion when the conditions were right for using a competitive advantage to its best utility."
Life on the Home Front
Two lectures between breakfast and lunch sounded daunting at first, but both were so riveting that paying attention to both was not an issue--no joke! The second lecture from the day came from Erik Arnesen, a great guy and a history professor at George Washington University. He is accompanying our group to France and toured with us yesterday at the Memorials/Monuments.
One of the most impressive things from Sunday that both Mr. H. and Matti took away from the WWII Memorial is that it's not just a memorial for fallen soldiers. That's the case with the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials but the WWII Memorial is for all Americans who were part of the war effort. Arnesen's lecutre, "The Home Front: Life and Work in World War II Ameica" focused on all those in the U.S. who were crucial to the success of D-Day and the larger war effort.
He covered so many different subjects, topics and groups of people it's tough to narrow down. The bottom line of his talk that is central to what this Institute is all about is that a lot of people sacrificed to the Allied victory. Some chose to sacrifice, some had it selected, and the largest group of people came together to be part of something greater than they were alone.
Night at the Movies
The evening was spent watching a movie titled, "The True Glory" which is available on Amazon and listed on IMDB (so it has to be good, right?). It was made while the war still waged on in Europe and is like a 90-minute news special created by the U.S. government. Great vintage footage and fascinating to watch.
By the way, if you want more details on the subject of those lectures let me now and I'll send you my adults and pictures of the presentation slides. As always...follow on Twitter, Facebook and share with others.
For some reason I wrote yesterday's blog like I was writing an article...quoting myself and Matti as if I was writing about somebody other than myself and her. I'll try to write this in the first person but would love to have you send your opinions on either way.....
Mr. H.'s phone buzzed in his suit coat pocket on the coach bus ride to the Foggy Bottom campus of George Washington University. "It said I had a comment posted to the blog so I was excited to see what that was all about," he said.
On his phone was a message from Wendell Tangborn, the brother of Virgil Tangborn who is the fallen Minnesota soldier being memorialized by Matti and Mr. H. during this Albert H. Small Normandy Institute. Mr. Tangborn said, "Please convey my thanks to Mr. Small when you meet him for sponsoring this institute. It means much to me to know my brother is not forgotten--even after the 70 years since he died."
The message was a poignant beginning to an evening that would serve as the official introduction and overview to the Institute. Matti and Mr. H, along with the other 14 students and teachers, were given the VIP treatment on the rooftop balcony of a building in the heart of D.C.. The host of the evening was Albert H. Small along with several others critical to the operation and success of the Institute.
Matti and Mr. H. took the first opportunity they could to share Wendell Tangborn's message to Mr. Small, as well as their own thanks. "It was so wonderful to meet Mr. Small in person and thank him for making all of this possible. Honoring the sacrifice of individuals who were part of one of the biggest events in history, a true turning point in history, is so important," Matti said.
The night began with an over presented by Robert Perry (a GWU Trustee, president of the National Trust for the Humanities and member of the National History Day Board of Trustees). Mr. Perry has worked with Mr. Small for many years and knew of the dream to send young people to Normandy dream long ago. "A vision without execution is an illusion," he said, officially welcoming our class of 2013.
Mr. Perry also shared one of his favorite quotes from Gordon England, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense: "Throughout history, brave men in decisive battles like Thermopylae, Gettysburg and Midway have changed the course of civilization. The same can be said of the men who fought here on D-Day sixty four years ago. They too, were a part of something huge and historic. Victory or defeat at Normandy would determine the future, not just for France or Europe, but for all of humanity. This operation proved to be the largest operation in human history, and none of it would have been possible without the United States Navy."
The group was also blessed to have Mortimer (Morti) Caplin speak about his experience on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day as a beach master--which basically meant that he was responsible for safely directing the landings to the proper locations and handling other logistics of the landing, all while having his back to the machine gun fire and waving semaphore flags to direct landing craft. "The bodies were all over with severed arms and legs floating everywhere, it looked like a wax museum," Caplin said. After his service, Caplin went on to serve in the White House as a commissioner in both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.
Matti and Mr. H. made sure to thank Mr. Caplin for his service and speaking to our group. They also took a photograph with him that you can see in the final trip overview once Mr. H. pulls photos off his camera memory card (all photos published here are iphone/ipad based so there will be much better ones later on). Read more about Mr. Caplin here: www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/resources/legends_in_the_law/caplin.cfm
The gang is all here...
Good Luck: We landed, met up with another teacher-student pair from Kentucky and suddenly Mr. H. was the tour guide for a group of four. As he led them through the metro, on the first transfer from the yellow line to the green line, things went flawlessly--or so it seemed. "As the train sped away into the tunnel, I suddenly realized that my camera bag with my very nice camera and lenses inside was no longer with us," Mr. H. said. He immediately ran up the flight of stairs to the metro station office to notify the transit authority. They put out a call to the operator of the train who conducted a sweep of the train---nothing. Then, as sudden as the camera bag took off, a call came over the intercom stating that a camera bag had been turned in at the next station. We hopped on the metro, ran off at the next stop and were greeted by Mr. H.'s camera bag. Turns out, some very kind-hearted individual saw it sitting there and turned it in to the next metro station office. Needless to say, the kindness and charity of that stranger is very commendable and a great example of how we should all behave. "Whether he knows how much that means to me, financially as well as emotionally, it was amazing to get it all back in one piece," Mr. H. said.
Heartbreak: Four years ago, as a 7th grader going on 8th grade, Mattii went to Washington, D.C. as a student in the Salk Middle School STEM magnet program. That year, on the day the group was to tour the Holocaust Museum, a shooting took place at the museum killing a security guard and closing the place down for a week. That was her one top location to visit on that trip and she was very saddened by the terrible event of that day, not to mention missing the opportunity to see this hallowed institution.
Fast forward four years, Matti is a junior going on becoming a senior, and Mr. H. was able to obtain tickets for the two to visit the Holocaust Museum. We arrived, we toured it, and Mattii got to experience the emotional trauma that comes from just such a place. "It was heartbreaking to go through there but it was simply amazing to experience and I'm glad I got to see everything firsthand as difficult as it was to do," Matti said.
New Friends: As Mr. H. writes this, we are with roommates, we are dressed in Class A formal wear, we are gathing to take the shuttle to dinner and we are meeting people we have only otherwise known through our teacher and student blog responses in preparation for this Institute. Mr. H. and Matti will blog later tonight after the opening reception but for all those wondering, we are having fun, we are well rested after a two-hour Thursday night, and everything is looking positive for a most awesome experience.
Please leave your comments, questions and insights below or by writing to email@example.com
5:00 A.M.--Humphrey Terminal--Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport--Anxious to board our flight, Matti and I are sitting here in the airport enjoying a nutritious breakfast consisting of coffee and chocolate muffins. Breakfast of champions right?
Our thoughts and worries are about a safe flight, getting through the D.C. Metro, checking-in to the dorms and what to try and see in the first day and a half of self-guided touring that we have. In the back of our minds, however, are the thoughts of what this trip is all about: learning about valor, honoring sacrifice, respecting the deeds of others and preserving history. We look forward to sharing this journey with all of you and INVITE you to post your comments, your questions and your requests for information.
As anxious and anticipatory as we are right now, we cannot help but think about what it must have been like 69 years ago as those soldiers prepared for what Eisenhower called, "A great crusade." Our thoughts and worries cannot compare to the experiences of D-Day but it does well to help focus our minds and hearts on what it means to be on the verge of a "great crusade." We are not facing a formidable enemy, however. Thanks to their sacrifices and service we are blessed to embark on a great crusade of learning, honor and adventure.
Joseph Lindberg from the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote a great article about our Normandy trip for the Albert Small Normandy Institute coming up in just a few weeks. With the anniversary of D-Day fast approaching I'm expecting the website to get a lot of traffic so thanks to Joseph for the attention and thanks to the MN History Center for contacting the media on our behalf.
Be sure to follow us on here as we blog daily during our trip. You can also follow us on Twitter @SalkMrH
PLEASE click on the link and read the article yourself:
It's been a busy March as Matti and Ron prepare for their trip to D.C. and Normandy in June for the Albert Small Normandy Institute. Have you visited the part of this website with our weekly homework? If not, pay a visit by clicking here. Both of us spent some time traveling this month and had the chance to make sure our passports check out with U.S. Customs. Matti was on the East Coast braving the Ivy League visiting Yale, Harvard, MIT and Princeton. Where will she end up? It's anybody's guess right now. Meanwhile, Ron was up in Manitoba braving the elements on a filming/photography/writing project. Talk about two very different trips!
Matti's History Day project is also headed to Minnesota's state History Day competition on May 4, 2013 at the University of Minnesota. The one photo of us making funny faces came in the anticipation at Regions. Ron had 66 students at Regions from Salk along with six senior high students. The final count of students headed to state include 20 from Salk and all six senior high schoolers. There might be a website or two and a paper but Ron will find that out in a few weeks. Matti's judges were very impressed with her Exhibit Board and how she has some work to get it ready for State in hopes of making it to Nationals. What's the topic? D-Day as a Turning Point of course. Might as well try and get two birds with one stone!
Oh, and 80 days? Really? Wow...time to pack the suitcase.
Matti and Mr. Hustvedt thank you for visiting this website about our journey to Washington, D.C. and Normandy France to memorialize a fallen Minnesota soldier, learn about D-Day, and firsthand see the places where history was made. Here are the introductions we shared with the 14 other teachers and students from across the country who will be on this adventure with us."