Last month, staff from National History Day and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media led 18 middle and high school teachers on a two-week field study of WWII in Northern Europe. This trip is part of Understanding Sacrifice, an 18-month program of study, research, and lesson plan development for the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).
Beginning in London and ending in Amsterdam, the group visited six ABMC WWII cemeteries in England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In preparation, each teacher researched the life of an individual buried in one of the ABMC cemeteries. At each site, teachers presented short eulogies to share with their fellow teachers and cemetery visitors. The research led teachers to military records, local newspapers, and sometimes even to contact with family members who shared letters, photographs, and diaries. During the trip, several teachers also met with the Dutch citizens who had “adopted” the grave of their fallen service member.
To provide further context, the group visited museums and historic sites related to military history. For a British perspective on the war, the teachers visited the Imperial War Museum in London, as well as the Churchill War Rooms. (more…)