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...

"Meteorology Matters"
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.....
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."
-- James Percoco, Director of Education,
Friends of the National World War II Memorial
"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."
-- Colonel Harry Tomlin
U.S. Army, (Ret.) and U.S. Army War College Strategic Art Program
 

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."
-- Professor Thomas C. Long, Academic Director of the Albert Small Teacher-Student Institute and Professor of History at George Washington University

 
 
Matti Martin, Albert Small and Ron Hustvedt (Mr. H.)
Victory or defeat at Normandy would determine the future, not just for France or Europe, but for all of humanity."
                          -- Gordon England
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...

The Albert Small Normandy Institute Class of 2013 includes 15 teachers and 15 students from all across the United States. Some of the states represented include Minnesota, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, California, Iowa, Idaho, Georgia and even the territory of Puerto Rico. 
Each of the 15 teacher-student pairs are now checked in and ready to go. The group is excited and all a buzz, still going through introductory conversations with each other. "We all know that this is something extraordinary but it still is hard to believe that it's actually happening," Mr. H. said. "The teachers keep talking about how great this is going to be for the students and also how fast the next 12 days are going to go for everybody," he added. 

So far so good at the GWU dorms on the Mount Vernon campus. Lunch most days is on campus but those who arrived early took a walking field trip to check out the local flavors. Blacksalt Fish Market and Restaurant is a fantastic restaurant that makes an awesome crab cake sandwich. Nearby Palisades Pizzeria &  Clam Bar is also a great place for a slice of pizza. In other good news, there is a Starbucks within walking distance. "With the population of the community growing by 15 teachers that Starbucks is sure to feel our presence," Mr. H. said.  
 
 
George Washington University--Mount Vernon Campus--Saturday, June 14, 2013
We are here in D.C., we are checked into our dorms at George Washington University--Mount Vernon Campus and we are preparing for the introductory dinner tonight. We will get to meet Mr. Albert Small, the host and sponsor of this most excellent Institute. The past 24 hours in D.C. have been very fun, eventful and interesting....but remember the ancient curse, "May you live in interesting times." Ha!


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 ronald.hustvedt@elkriver.k12.mn.us
 
 
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. 
 
 
Picture
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: 
http://www.twincities.com/education/ci_23394720/blaine-student-exploring-normandy-archives-d-day-program


 
 
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." 
Ron's Introduction...
Hey there everybody, from the beautiful state of Minnesota! My name is Ron Hustvedt, Jr. I put off writing this because I knew I’d blab on too much and clearly I did. For that I’m sorry but it’s a pleasure to meet all of you and I know we are going to have a lot of fun together on this journey of a lifetime!

I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade Social Studies at Salk Middle School in Elk River located just northwest of the Twin Cities. Elk River is essentially a small town that’s become a suburb over the past 20 years. I enjoy it but its still a weird place for this city boy born and raised in south Minneapolis (which is also where I taught for the first eight years of my career). My wife and I moved out here from the city and I was hired by the district the next year to create a High School transition program for at-risk 9th and 10th grade students. I did that for two years and was really enjoying it before some unrelated district cuts had another teacher bump me out of transition and back into social studies, my true love to teach. I haven’t looked back since.

Salk is a STEM Magnet program but I set out to make social studies as hands-on and engaging as it possible. I ran our NHD program when I taught in Minneapolis and brought it out to Elk River. We went from 150 students our first year to 500 students this year. In the process, I received the 2010 Minnesota History Day Teacher of Merit award and was able to attend the national event for the first time. (Back in 2005 I had two students take first place for their performance but I was unable to attend.) I returned last year with two students who took fifth in the nation for their exhibit board.

Since 2003 I’ve brought over 200 students to Washington, D.C. on a semi-annual field trip and I love bringing all of my students to places like the University of Minnesota library to conduct research. Getting students out of the textbook, out of their seats, out of the classroom and out of the school invigorates me. Creating the organized chaos that ensues, and getting everybody back in one piece having learned so much, is ever so much fun. This institute will be a treat.

I recently served on the Minnesota Social Studies Standards Review Committee where I was honored to help update our state social studies standards to make them more teachable, more streamlined, and more focused on teaching historical skills rather than just a laundry list of dates and names. I am a board member for the Minnesota Council for History Education, a Trainer with the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program and frequent presenter to History Day teachers at the Minnesota Historical Society. There’s more, but really, who wants to read it! I am passionate about teaching all the areas of social studies and am deeply humbled to be part of this group. Most of all, I am passionate about getting my students fired up about this most crucial of subjects. Having students say or write “I didn’t like history until this year” is still the most sincere and highest award we can receive.

Other than all that, I’ve been an adjunct professor in a Master of Education program, I am outdoors writer for several state and national publications, I produce videos and take photography for a few businesses and I do all that on the margins of time because I might just be insane. My business is called WriteOutdoors.com and is too much fun to walk away from. I have a three-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son who always take priority over everything else I mentioned. My beautiful wife teaches middle school math and is still the best teacher I’ve ever worked with. She is my best resource for improving my craft. This trip will be the longest I’ve been away from them by a long shot and it’s the only thing I’m not looking forward to with giddy excitement.
Matti's Intro...
My name is Mattilan Martin, but I mostly go by Matti ( pronounced just like maddy). I am a Junior at the Center for Engineering Math and Science hosted by Blaine High school (we call its CEMS for short),which is in the middle of cold snowy Minnesota. I play sand-volleyball, basketball and softball, as well as being a part of my schools drama department, HOSA team and National Honor Society. (No, I don’t get much sleep in case you were wondering  . ) I am a loud and outgoing person and I apparently have a thick Minnesotan accent according to my friends from other states.

I have a strong love for history that has been fostered and grown by my awesome middle school history teacher and my involvement in National History Day. I am especially a huge fan of WWII. My two grandpas, both veterans, have taught me the values of honoring the sacrifices made by soldiers and I think the opportunity we are given to do just that is truly amazing.

I am so excited to meet all of you in person and to go to France, especially because I have never been out of the country!

And even though we aren’t known for our stellar football teams out here I still cheer for the Vikings. Although, I am a huge football fanatic and can get excited watching just about any game!