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Sunday, June 22, 2014

"On This Day"- June 22, 1944

Propaganda poster for the new G.I. Bill
Hello All!

Today’s topic is a World War II themed ‘on this day in history’ for June 22.

On June 22, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the G.I. Bill; a legislative act intended to compensate returning members of the armed forces. The G.I. Bill, known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, was one of the last New Deal reforms. The idea was to help all the displaced men and women returning from war to avoid a relapse into another depression. FDR remembered the Bonus March of 1932, where 20,000 unemployed veterans marched on Washington, and wanted to avoid a repeat of that event. The American Legion was able to gain many provisions for the bill that are now included, such as, giving returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, education funding, and low-interest rates on home and business loans.

Soldier reading the G.I. Bill of Rights
By giving our Veterans an advantage, and incentive, to further their higher education, the Bill inadvertently altered higher education in America. Suddenly, college degrees that were only available to 10 to 15 percent of the privileged classes were now accessible to our Veterans. By 1947, World War II vets made up half of the country’s college enrollment. With such a drastic influx of people, colleges and universities were forced to adapt and compensate to the growing demand for higher education. Not only were facilities and staff improved, but also vocational studies were developed and flourished, like education, agriculture, commerce, and mining skills. Not only that, but thousands of veterans were now able to move from their urban homes to new, sprawled out, suburban communities!
Advertisements promoting loan coverage under the G.I. Bill.

Millions of veterans, and their families, were able to have a comfortable life and further their education, which in-tern drove a thirty-year economic expansion in America. Since the signing of the bill, the impact has changed education, quality of life, and even the landscape of America! Some famous Americans to benefit from the G.I. Bill were former President Gerald Ford, Johnny Cash, Paul Newman, and Clint Eastwood.

Take care,

Friday, June 20, 2014

D-Day Through the Decades: 2014 Commemoration

Hello everyone,

As I sit here at our bi-annual Teacher Institute listening to two D-Day veterans, I am reminded of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day just a few short weeks ago.  It is hard to believe that it has been almost two weeks since the commemoration.  It was a beautiful ceremony with thousands of people in attendance - and most importantly, hundreds of our guests of honor - D-Day veterans.

Living Historian Encampment
After months and months of preparations, it was time to see all the planning come to action.  The first buses of people arrived on-site around 7:45AM and we were ready!  The living historians were set up on the East Lawn, Hospitality Tent and refreshments on the West Lawn, and volunteers everywhere to make sure the public had all the information they needed.

The ceremony began at 11AM with the Golden Knights jumping into action.  There were seven members of the Golden Knights team who jumped that morning beginning our 70th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony.  Throughout the course of the next hour and a half, speakers read excerpts from D-Day veterans - using the words of the men who were there to honor the memory of the actions taken 70 years ago.  It was haunting and beautiful as each speaker stepped up to the platform to relive a particular memory.

Golden Knights
During the ceremony, there were flyovers from a C-47, P-51, and 4 T-6s in a missing man formation.  The official ceremony concluded with the dedication of Homage.  Our newest tribute to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the servicemen reflects the story of the Bedford Boys of the sacrifices made by Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division.

Gathered around Homage
The reminder of the day was spent listening to the 29th Division Band and James Anthony, a.k.a. Frank Sinatra, on the USO stage.  Patrons and veterans were able to rest in some shade in the hospitality tent and in the education tent, which had been set up with exhibits designed by our dedicated interns.  That evening, we gathered again on-site to watch Casablanca on a large inflatable screen.  

Overall it was a wonderful day and weekend spent commemorating the accomplishments of the service members who fought on the longest day, getting us back into France and ending the war in Europe by May 1945. 

Before signing off, I would like to extend my sincerest THANK YOU to all the staff, volunteers, medical personnel, officers, and sponsors who made everything we were able to do that weekend possible! 
Invasion Plaza



Internships at the Memorial

Hello everyone, 

Now that we are able to get back to a bit of a normal routine (at least before camp starts next week), we are going to take a minute to introduce you to one of our wonderful interns who has been working with us over the past month.  I can tell you, they have all been working hard: researching, helping with students, moving tables and chairs, learning the tour, creating exhibits, and once again moving tables and chairs.  I, along with the rest of the staff at the Memorial, are so appreciative of their hard work and dedication.  Without our wonderful interns helping out this summer, I do not know how I would have gotten all the work completed.  Starting just a few weeks before D-Day, they jumped in, completed whatever task was asked of them, and I cannot thank them enough for their dedication to the Memorial.  Connor's last day was today, but it is better late than never....right?


Greetings to all!

My name is Connor Mullin. I am a student at Hillsdale College majoring in history. This past spring, while searching for possible internships related to my field, I came across the National D-Day Memorial.  I had visited the memorial the previous summer and was struck by its simplicity and beauty.  On May 19th, I arrived on site and began work almost immediately, assisting with the education program, and, of course, preparing for the big day: the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  For most veterans of that fateful day, this would be the last time for such a significant gathering, as the world continues to lose many World War II veterans each day.  Based on the testimonies of my coworkers and the veterans I talked to, the ceremony was a success.  As a matter of fact, June 6th, 2014, exceeded all of my expectations.  

Upon entering the long, winding drive up to the memorial on that warm, sunny Friday, I could tell the day was going to be special, but also rather hectic.  At 7:30 am, I found myself assisting in the moving of chairs and the adding of any final necessary touches to all of our exhibits.  I should not neglect to mention where I was to be stationed that day: the education tent, a large green army tent generally closed to the public, but open to all on June 6th.  That day, the tent (which also happened to be air conditioned, much to the relief of many a visitor) featured an array of artwork and propaganda as well as three trifold boards detailing the missions of the land, sea, and air forces on D-Day.  Many hours of research, organization, and assembly had gone into completing the trifold boards, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Felicia and the interns I was honored to get to know and work with.  I, along with two other interns, was not the only one stationed in the tent for the day, however: a World War II veteran named Wally also set up shop in the tent, his table adorned with copies of a book he had written about his long lasting marriage and enthralling visitors and veterans alike with his gripping accounts of the war.  It was a privilege to get to know Wally, one of the many heroes being honored that day.  The ceremony itself lasted about an hour and a half and was a wonderful tribute to all of those who participated in arguably the most important day of the war.  Solemnity and gravity pervaded the air, but so did feelings of awe and appreciation.  After the ceremony, a new statue, “Homage,” a tribute to the Bedford Boys, was officially dedicated in a rousing and emotional observance, led by a World War II veteran who passionately chanted, “We will not forget!”  June 6th, 2014, will certainly be an anniversary to remember.

I would like to close by thanking all of those who I have worked with this past month, especially Felicia, my supervisor.  Without her dedication and effort, we never would have been able to accomplish what we did.  And to any veteran of World War II who may read this, I cannot thank you enough for your valor, fidelity, and sacrifice.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Winston Churchill