Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom®

The Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute helped a new generation of students discover the sacrifices made in World War II through the life of a Silent Hero who is memorialized in the Normandy American Cemetery. This program was made possible through the generous support of Mr. Albert H. Small.

About the Institute
Silent Heroes
About the Institute

From 2011 to 2018, fifteen student/teacher teams engaged in a rigorous study of D-Day and World War II each year. Students and teachers participated in online classes led by World War II historians, which included weekly readings and online discussions with their peers. Additionally, teachers aided students in the historical study of a Silent Hero buried in or memorialized at the Normandy American Cemetery whose story had not been previously told.

Each June, teams traveled to Washington, D.C., where the students and teachers attended lectures and activities presented by World War II historians and participated in scholarly study of the war memorials in the D.C. area in order to understand the cost of war.

On the final leg of the journey, the groups traveled to France and walked in the footsteps of history in Normandy. In addition to learning from local historians and curators, students made presentations on various aspects of the Normandy Campaign that they had individually studied throughout the year.

The last day of the journey was held at the Normandy American Cemetery. Every student presented a eulogy at the grave of a Silent Hero® buried at the Normandy American Cemetery.

Teams returned to the U.S. and, together with their teachers, the students worked to build Silent Hero profiles, digital memorials intended to immortalize and pass on the memory of American sacrifice to later generations.

Silent Heroes

The major assignment for the students and teachers during the this institute is the Silent Hero project. Each student/teacher team researched a service member from their region who fought at Normandy and made the ultimate sacrifice. After exhaustive research, the students and teachers created a website dedicated to their soldier’s life and legacy. Below are examples of the memorial websites students have made for their Silent Heroes. These websites show the work of students and teachers and feature the powerful eulogies delivered at the graves of their Silent Heroes in the Normandy American Cemetery.


Mr. Albert H. Small generously funded the Normandy: Sacrifice For Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute. Mr. Small is a World War II veteran, a real estate developer, and a life-long collector of rare historic manuscripts and maps. Mr. Small is a noted philanthropist. He donated his Declaration of Independence collection to the University of Virginia, where it is housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Additionally, he donated his extensive collection of rare Washington, D.C. manuscripts, prints, and maps to The George Washington University, where it is part of the Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies.

Mr. Small serves on numerous civic and cultural boards, including the Aspen Institute, the National Trust for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Symphony Orchestra, Ford's Theatre, and the National Archives Foundation. He is a member of the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress and the Life Guard of Mount Vernon. For his support of the humanities, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal.

Thank you Mr. Small for helping our young men and women learn about the importance of the sacrifices made by the World War II generation.

Thank you to our institute partners:
White House Historical Association
National Archives and Records Administration