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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

History Explorers: Developing an Interest in History for Today’s Youth

Hello, Friends!

One of the things I love to do is to help students and the general public develop a deeper understanding and love for history. While I get to do this regularly with field trips and giving tours of the Memorial, I only have around one hour to cover the history of D-Day in the context of World War II. While I have been able to inspire most with the personal stories of D-Day veterans and their families, most of our youth like to learn with their hands and through interactions which is difficult to do with large groups in such a short period of time.

One of our History Explorers watching
rain form from the cloud.
This is why I love our partnership with a local elementary school in the county through the 21st Century Grant program. Through this partnership, students travel up to the Memorial once a week for eight weeks for an hour each visit. In this time, we get to explore and interact with the history of D-Day. This is what we have done for the past few weeks:

On the third week of the program, we talked about preparing and planning for the D-Day invasion. We talked about, and even tested each other on, requirements to be a part of the military, analyzed the invasion map and created our own, and finally discussed how weather impacted the invasion and did an experiment on how rain forms with shaving cream and food coloring.
On the fifth week, we talked about the naval and air operations of the D-Day invasion. We created our own Higgins boats (LCVPs) and tested them to see how much weight they could hold. We also made our own P-51 Mustang paper airplanes.

Our History Explorers shopping for a meal with only
10 ration points and $5. 
Last week, we interacted with artifacts from the homefront and tried our hand at shopping with ration points in the Memorial’s “Piggly Wiggly.” And today, we will be talking about the importance of victory in WWII and how we can honor veterans today. We will be making V-Pins and creating this fun craft as a card to hand out to veterans at the Memorial’s Veterans Day ceremony on November 11th.

Not only can history be relevant to us today, but we have to remember that it can be fun, as well. That is why I love working with our History Explorers. Instead of learning history through a lecture or PowerPoint in a classroom, we can get our hands dirty and tangible interact with the past in a way that they will remember for years to come.

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

World War II Ration Era Recipe: Squash Biscuits

Besides the changing leaves and being able to wear boots again, I love fall because winter squash is in season at the market. Winter squash is typically harvested in September or October and consists of butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and many other variants. During the 1940’s in an effort to reduce waste during World War II, leftover winter squash was used to make tasty biscuits.

Recipe from “Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked” by Joanne Lamb Hayes

·         2 cups of unsifted all-purpose flour
·         3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
·         3 teaspoons of baking powder
·         ¼ teaspoon of salt
·         ¼ cup of shortening
·         ½ cup of milk
·         ½ cup of pureed winter squash puree

·         Preheat oven to 375oF. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
·         Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture forms coarse crumbles
·         Combine milk and squash puree. Add to flour mixture and stir together just until all flour mixture has been moistened. Spoon out onto greased baking sheet to make 12 biscuits.
·         Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
·         Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to serving basket and serve warm.

Honestly, this was a fairly simple recipe and easy to make. The most frustrating part of the recipe was
making the puree since I did not buy frozen butternut squash, but even that wasn’t difficult.  It felt even more like a true “ration-era” recipe since I pulled all of the ingredients from my pantry, except for the squash.

As they were cooling, I was prepared for these not to taste the best as most ration recipes tend to taste bland. But, they surprised me in the most pleasant way. They sort of reminded me of Red Lobster’s biscuits. I plan on making them again this fall, but probably with more salt and adding cheddar cheese.

I hope that you take some time to try out this recipe and possibly incorporate it into one of your fall dinners!

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Meet the Truman's: Eisenhower's 125th Birthday Event

Will and Sue Wills, performance duo depicting Mr. and Mrs. Truman.
Join us in celebration of Gen. Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower’s birthday at the Memorial’s annual fall fundraiser. This event features a catered luncheon, a fabulous silent auction, and a very special tribute performance. Audience members will be entertained with the enduring tale of Harry Truman and beloved bride, Bess.

“Presidents and Their First Ladies, dramatically speaking” is the creation of the veteran acting and writing duo, William and Sue Wills. Together, they will narrate the touching love story of the Truman’s through humor, rocky times, human frailties, and enduring affection. Through Mr. and Mrs. Wills fantastic program, they hope to share the personal side of our famous first couples, transforming them into more than just another page in the history books.

This special event will be held at the National D-Day Memorial, October 11, 1 PM - 4 PM. Tickets are on sale now; $35 per person or $60 per couple for performance and lunch. Performance only tickets are $15 per person.

33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman
Truman Fun Facts

Harry S. Truman

1.  Born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri and moved to Independence, Missouri only six years later.
2.  Poor eyesight kept Harry from joining sports teams, but allowed him to cultivate his true passions;
reading and music.
3.  He read every book in the Independence Public Library and was a talented pianist.
4. Despite being an excellent student, Truman’s parents could not afford a proper college education and his eye impediments kept him from attending West Point, his dream college.
5. Truman worked a multitude of jobs once graduating from high school in 1901, including farming, oil drilling, and banking.
6.  Harry joined the army in 1917 and served in France during World War I. He left the Army in 1919 as a captain and married Bess soon after.
7. The S. in Harry S. Truman stands for nothing except S. His parents were honoring both his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.
8.  Harry ran for county judge in Jackson County, MO in 1924. Launching his political career.
9. In 1934, Harry ran for U.S. Senate and won.
10.   Headed the Truman Commission during World War II investigating fraud in defense contracts, saving the government millions of dollars.
11.   Handpicked by President Roosevelt to be his running mate during the 1944 election.
12.   Less than three months after the election, Harry S. Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States of America.
13.   Biggest decision as President was to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, thus ending the 2nd World War and changing American foreign policy.
14.   Truman also faced tough decisions regarding the beginning of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Central Intelligence Agency, and National Security Council.
15.   Expanded the GI Bill, created numerous proposals regarding health care and issued four civil rights executive orders during his time in office.
16.   Today, Truman is thought to be one of the best Presidents in U.S. history, ranking 5th behind Lincoln, FDR, Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt.
17.   President Truman passed away on December 26, 1972 in Kansas City, MO at the age of 88.

Truman family spending quality time together.
Famous Quotes:

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
“I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.”

Bess Truman
Elizabeth Truman

 1. First Lady of President Harry Truman, Wife.
 2.  Birth name, Elizabeth “Bess” Virginia Wallace. Born on February 13, 1885 in Independence, Missouri.
 3.  Married Harry S. Truman on June 28, 1919.
 4. Together they had one child named “Mary” Margaret Truman (1924-2008)     
 5.  Bess supported numerous charities including the Red Cross, Muscular Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy, and Girl Scouts.
 6.  Bess and Harry met while attending Sunday school in Missouri; she was only 5 years old.
 7.  Bess was described as an intelligent, religious woman, more comfortable at home, and introverted. Preferred to quietly support her husband, even during his time in the White House.
 8.  Truman became President when Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away in April, 1945, thus thrusting the both of them into extremely public political life.
 9.   The post war American public admired her for the homely lifestyle within the White House.
10. Bess is the longest living first lady thus far, passing away at 97 years old. She died October 18, 1982 in her place of birth.

Famous Quote:
“We are not any of us happy to be where we are but there’s nothing to be done about it except to do our best – and forget about the sacrifices and many unpleasant things that pop up.”

“I am not the one who is elected. I have nothing to say to the public.”

Truman family sharing a few laughs.
I hope you all will join us for this splendid fall event!

Take Care,