Skip to main content

The Site of Bill's Death (this is the one beach further)

Looking down on Fox Green sector of Omaha Beach from a German strong point. 

I’m guilty of getting restless on trips. I always want to pack more into the day, usually wanting to do one thing more than we really have time to do. Ask Sherry. She can give you many examples. This itch caught me again on our last full day in Normandy, after the students finished their eulogies and after our time had ended at the Cemetery.

The First Infantry Division Memorial

We had an outside lunch schedule, but the weather looked foreboding. Forecasts called for thunderstorms. But the heavens hadn’t opened yet. They had mercifully held off during the eulogies (Don’t worry, though, they opened later, drenching me during a walk back in Bayeux around 5:30. In fact, it rained so hard I bought the world’s smallest portable umbrella, which will soon become the property of Caroline). 

Cautious, we decided that it was best to eat on the bus rather than outside. But, I asked if I could go one beach further. Instead of eating then and there, could I go down to the First Infantry Division memorial? Could I take interested kids with me? The answer was yes and about a dozen and a half of us advanced down the hill.

Splendid! There were a few craters. There was a fortified German position in decent shape into which we could crawl. Other German strongpoints were visible but out of our reach in the time that we had.
But what was most meaningful to me was that we had a chance to view the approximate location where Bill died. From the German strongpoint, one could look at the approximate area where his company would have been at the time of his death. Time and tide didn’t allow me to get to the beach, but it meant a lot to be able to view the position. Perhaps we were even in the position near the sniper who killed Bill had been perched.

Looking out from German strong point at Easy Red, where I believe Bill's unit was pinned down at the time of his death. 

Some of our scholars. 

A German bunker. 

I’m glad I had the chance to go. I’m even more glad nearly twenty other kids and grownups did too. Adventures are a lot more fun when they’re not solo. 


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…