Normandy Institute Day 2
Day two of Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom began with a lecture called Problems in Expansion: The US Army in WWII by Major John “Casey” Doss of the United States Army. Major Doss traced the career arcs of three of the most storied army generals of World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, and Douglas MacArthur. He also made the distinction between the viewpoints of Army leadership and the men on the ground. In particular, he focused on the differing views of the American soldier held by Patton and Bill Mauldin, creator of the comic characters Willie and Joe who appeared in Stars and Stripes. Patton believed that men were eager to fight and to feel the thrill of victory, while Mauldin once stated that the “quickest way to become a pacifist is to join the infantry.
Following Major Doss’ lecture, Professor Christopher Klemek of George Washington University traced the developments of the Home Front from the onset of the Great Depression to the end of World War II. He finished his presentation with a discussion of the issues surrounding integration in the workforce at the end of the war, and the Philadelphia Transit Strike of 1944, when white workers staged a sick-out to protest the hiring of black workers as conductors.
After lunch, the students and teachers boarded a bus for the National Museum of American History. Here they viewed the exhibit “The Price of Freedom,” which details the major military conflicts in American history. In the World War II gallery, the students took turns testing their skill with a riveting gun and viewed a comprehensive overview of World War II.
In the evening, the Normandy scholars visited the residence of the French Ambassador, François Delattre and were treated to a tour of the home and grounds. The Ambassador’s wife, Sophie L’Hélias-Delattre accepted gifts from each of the fifteen student/teacher teams and spoke about the historical connections between the United States and France.
Tuesday is an important day for all fifteen of the students. They have each selected one soldier from their state to honor in Normandy, and the National Archives has arranged for the students to research its holdings. Students will be immersed in the documents related the the units involved in the Battle of Normandy and will be hoping to gain more insight into their soldiers’ missions during the invasion.
This post by Louisiana History Day Coordinator Nathan Huegen