Skip to main content

Our Third Stop

Our final visit of our long day was at a Canadian War Cemetery here in Normandy. This was our first visit to a cemetery on the trip. Visits to a German cemetery and (I think) a British cemetery is also on the agenda. Of course, a visit to America's Normandy cemetery takes place on our final full day here.

The visit was surprisingly powerful. The British Commonwealth handled burial of their dead in a different manner from the Americans. The families in Canada, for instance, weren't given the option to repatriate their loved ones' remains. Families could, however, have an inscription made on the tombstone of their soldier. Lauren found these inscriptions particularly moving. Here are a few examples.

There were also some other ways in which the grave markers showed care and nodded to the diversity in Canada's armed forces. Most graves were in English, but quite a few were in French. At first I thought it would just be in English or French given the soldier's unit. However, I did catch two different markers in the two languages for an officer and enlisted grade man in the same unit. Canadians who died in service to the RAF had a different logo emblazoned atop the marker. And the naming protocols of Canadian (and British, for that matter) also brought more individuality to the graves.

One other feature I liked about the cemetery, though concerned the way in which it had the feel of a church. The Canadians maintain more cemeteries than the U.S. does, but each is much smaller and mostly holds bodies near where they were slain. The uniform rows made it obvious that military dead were buried here, but in most other respects it looks like it belonged to some church next door.


Popular posts from this blog

I've Arrived

Today marked the first day of the Institute. Though our dormitory lodgings at the University of Maryland are nice, and though the opening dinner tonight was a fine affair, I didn't exactly have a lot of chances to photograph my adventure.

Upon arriving, though, the lead teacher, Frank welcomed us with our windbreakers, a token of our membership in a rather small circle of educators, scholars, and enthusiasts. By the way, when I was told that we would have windbreakers, I was expecting something cheap and thin. I wasn't expecting something substantial and lined!

The train ride down offered a good occasion to catch up with Lauren, who really is a remarkable student. We were among the first teams to arrive, which meant we had reasonable time to grab lunch before tonight's dinner.

Dinner was at the City View Room at George Washington University, a location that does offer a pleasant view of the Mall and points South. Good food. My fifth consecutive day with lamb (tonight it wa…

Classroom Time

A big part of the Institute is some classroom learning that we do while at University of Maryland. We spent the bulk of the morning in a conference room on our dorm's ground floor hearing from two speakers.

The second of them, a professor from Mary Washington College, gave a presentation about the home front. Her presentation leaned heavily on sharing visuals from the war era, especially propaganda posters urging for women's participation in the war effort. There were a few posters, in particular that caught my eye.

The second presentation certainly gave me ideas for artifacts I could use when next teaching World War II. However, the first presentation made me giddy. Our speaker was the historian secretariat for the U.S. Navy, and he offered an analysis of the Allied planning that made D-Day possible. It was the first dedicated history lecture for which I was in a student role since, oh, I don't know, 2003. There were a few really big takeaways from the lecture. The firs…

Lessons as a Teacher

It’s impossible to leave this trip without a few takeaways for my work in the classroom. In fact, there are five big lessons that I hope to employ. Here they are.

Kids are ready for lectures. Our students were an attentive, learning audience for seven formal lectures. They saw a range of styles, from disorganized to organized, from conversational to professorial, and from very engaging to nuts-and-bolts. Some topics were quite abstract. And I’m convinced that the lecture on architecture in cemeteries marks the spot at which the group attainted a sophisticated level of thought that characterized the rest of the trip. As one of my peers her, Judy from Southern California put it, the lecture gave them permission to be scholarly without threat of judgment.

Kids are ready for readings. We read a lot in preparation for this trip. If students or teachers fell off pace, a staff member at NHD would remind us to get back on. It paid off handsomely. Students had context for what we saw and had a…