|Sydnie Cobb of DeKalb Early College Academy has been accepted into the prestigious Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute. Along with DeKalb Early College Academy teacher, Jason Butler, Cobb will embark on a year-long course of study that concludes with a journey to Normandy, France to honor a WWII Silent Hero® who died during or after the D-Day landings. Butler and Cobb join 14 other student and teacher teams from around the country on this educational journey. Each team selects one Silent Hero from its hometown or region who is memorialized at the Normandy American Cemetery. Butler and Cobb will spend a year uncovering the life story of this Silent Hero through readings, historical research, and primary sources such as war records, draft cards, or interviews with descendants. Overseas travel, courses, materials, and even room and board are paid for through the generosity of Albert H. Small.
In June 2017, Butler and Cobb will travel to Washington, D.C. to finish their research with help from the National Archives, historians, and college professors. While in D.C. they will tour the World War II Memorial, attend a dinner sponsored by the White House Historical Association and prepare for the voyage of a lifetime. The final leg of their journey is to Normandy, France where they will stand on the beaches of D-Day, walking in the footsteps of their chosen Silent Hero. After visiting museums, sites of historic battles, and churches that were used as field hospitals, the group will visit the Normandy American Cemetery. There, Cobb will deliver a graveside eulogy for the Silent Hero she spent the year researching.
“With research assistance from their teachers, the students become deeply connected to their selected Silent Heroes,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “On that final day, when students read their eulogies, they memorialize someone they came to know, someone whose story they became responsible for telling. I am confident Sydnie will walk away with a powerful understanding of the sacrifice so many Silent Heroes made in World War II.”
The Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute seeks to teach a new generation about the sacrifices and challenges faced during World War II. The program is coordinated by National History Day® and is funded by a generous donation from Mr. Albert H. Small, a veteran himself.
Cobb, under the guidance of Butler, will create a memorial webpage that documents the story and sacrifice of their chosen Silent Hero. These pages live on as a digital memorial to the brave men who are memorialized at the Normandy American Cemetery. After participating in the program, Butler and Cobb will be charged with presenting the story of their Silent Hero to local schools, community groups, and veterans’ organizations.
“These digital records of the life and actions of a Silent Hero live on long after these teams return,” said Gorn. “They serve as a digital monument to the sacrifices made by these heroic individuals.”
Through their research, students and teachers will help tell the stories of 15 more Silent Heroes of WWII. To date, the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute has told the stories of 90 Silent Heroes. Each of these heroes lives on in the digital memorial created by past participants and remains a powerful memorial to the sacrifice of Americans in WWII.
About National History Day
NHD is a non-profit education organization in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD offers year-long academic programs that engage over half a million middle- and high-school students around the world annually in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top student projects have the opportunity to advance to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD also seeks to improve the quality of history education by providing professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators. NHD is sponsored in part by Kenneth E. Behring, Patricia Behring, HISTORY®, Jostens, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Joe Weider Foundation, and the WEM 2000 Foundation of the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation. For more information, visit nhd.org.
About National History Day in Georgia