Students on the beaches of Normandy, France. Students on the beaches of Normandy, France.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fifteen student and teacher teams from across the country are being given an extraordinary opportunity to tell the story of a fallen WWII hero with the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute. After a year of research, each team will travel to France where students will present eulogies at the grave or memorial of their chosen Silent Hero® . Teams select a Silent Hero who gave his or her life in World War II during or after the Normandy landings of D-Day and is memorialized at the Normandy American Cemetery. Overseas travel, courses, room and board, are all paid for by the generosity of Albert H. Small.

In June 2017, the teams come to Washington, D.C. to finish their research with help from the National Archives, historians, and college professors. While in D.C. the group tours the World War II Memorial, attends a dinner hosted by the White House Historical Association and prepares for the voyage of a lifetime. The final leg of their journey is to Normandy, France where teams visit the D-Day beaches, walking in the footsteps of their Silent Heroes. After seeing museums, historic sites, and churches that were used as field hospitals, the group visits the Normandy American Cemetery. There, each student delivers a powerful graveside eulogy for the Silent Hero he or she spent the year researching.

“Throughout their research these students and teachers become incredibly connected to their Silent Heroes,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “When they read their eulogies they are reading a eulogy for someone they know, someone whose story they are responsible for telling. It results in a powerful, and often tearful, understanding of the sacrifice these 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.
Throughout the program, teachers and students create a memorial webpage about their Silent Hero. After the conclusion of their travels, teams use these websites in presentations to local community groups, schools and classes, 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 the fallen.”

Congratulations to the students and teachers selected for the 2017 Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute.

Teachers are listed first, followed by the student, city, and state.

  • Amy Boehning and Travis Afuso of Mililani, Hawaii
  • Jason Butler and Sydnie Cobb of Stone Mountain, Georgia
  • Tracy Cline and Megan McGinnis of Van Buren, Arkansas
  • Andrea Darsch and Jose Garcia of Kissimmee, Florida
  • Paul Gauthier and Rebecca Wicklin of Cary, North Carolina
  • Katherine Gilbert and Zachary Meiselbach of Pascagoula, Mississippi
  • Shane Gower and Madison Taylor of Readfield, Maine
  • Christopher Johnson and Lauren Miller of Doylestown, Pennsylvania
  • Sam Knopik and Jay Mehta of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Jenny Larson and Julie Quade of Manson, Iowa
  • Christina O'Connor and Dylan Davis of Hingham, Massachusetts
  • Judy Richonne and Sonia Kelly of Irvine, California
  • Christopher Stewart and Evan DuFresne of Forest Lake, Minnesota
  • Meghan Thomas and Marc Lopez of Chicago, Illinois
  • Thalia Wood and Rebecca Carcieri of Warwick, Rhode Island
  • About National History Day®

    National History Day 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


    Lynne O'Hara
    Director of Programs
    Phone: 484-919-2595
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