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Thursday, April 13, 2017

What’s in Store: Home School Day 2017!

This past weekend, over 200 Boy and Girl Scouts, troop leaders, and parents gathered at the National D-Day Memorial for its annual Scout Day – a day full of educational, hands-on programs that related to World War II and D-Day, a tour of the Memorial, a chance to meet and speak with a D-Day veteran, and the opportunity to participate in a program to earn a merit badge. On May 5, 2017 from 10am – 1pm, the National D-Day Memorial will be hosting a similar day for home school children in the area. 
Home School Day will feature three distinct hands-on activities: Ration Recipe Round-Up, Barrage Balloon Blitz, and Envision the Invasion. Each of these rotating stations allow children to learn about the World War II home front, a special military unit on D-Day, and the essential planning process and execution of the D-Day invasion. Volunteers and interns of the Memorial facilitate each station and present a lesson, followed by the activity.
Additionally, Home School Day will include a tour of the Memorial that will inform students and families all about the planning, execution, and victory stages of the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944. Furthermore, children will have the opportunity to also meet a local D-Day veteran and be able to hear a first-hand account of the invasion. Home School Day is a rare opportunity for children to learn about D-Day and World War II in a hands-on and creative way. Registrations for Home School Day is open now so don’t hesitate to sign up because slots will fill up fast! Visit the event page to find more information and to register!

 - Meika  


Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Nisei Soldiers of World War II

           African-Americans were not the only ones to experience racism and discrimination by the armed forces during World War II. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, first generation Japanese Americans, Issei, and second generation, Nisei, soon faced harsh discrimination and assaults on their character and loyalty to America. Out of wartime fear, two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of some 110,000 Japanese-American citizens. However, perhaps President Roosevelt and ordinary Americans should not have acted so rashly to detain over 100,000 Japanese Americans, because the war in Europe would soon demand any able bodied men to join the fight.

            As American-born citizens with Japanese descent, many Nisei were eager to serve their country, but due to further discrimination, Nisei were not permitted to join the United States military. About a year after internment began, President Roosevelt reversed this policy and authorized the enlistment of Japanese Americans. However, though they were now allowed to serve in the military, Japanese Americans were restricted to a segregated infantry outfit. This unit became known as the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. Upon requests for volunteers, 10,000 Japanese Americans reported to recruiting offices in 1943.

             In 1944, as the Allied fight in North Africa and Italy met increased opposition from German forces, the 442nd found themselves under the command of General Mark Clark, commander of the Fifth Army in Italy. The 442nd joined the 100th Infantry Battalion, which was a majority Japanese American unit from Hawaii, created in 1942 before the ban on Japanese American involvement in the military. This unit was battle hardened, having seen action in North Africa and Italy for some time. By June 1944 and the fall of Rome, the 100th experienced many casualties and were in need of reinforcements in order to continue the fight into central Europe. 

            The 442nd soon proved not only their loyalty to America, but also their indispensability in Clark’s army. They were instrumental in pushing the German lines back and their heroism and bravery were admired and revered by many. General George Marshall said of the 442nd: “They were superb! They showed rare courage and tremendous fighting spirit. Everybody wanted them.” The 442nd further demonstrated their “extraordinary bravery and valor” for their service and sacrifice in France in the fall of 1944. These Nisei soldiers who were “once considered a problem by the army, [were now] seen as a problem solver,” and were called upon for a special rescue mission of the 141st Regiment who were surrounded by German forces in France. In an effort to rescue these 275 men of the 141st, the 442nd experienced immense casualties. In addition to North Africa and Italy, Japanese Americans assisted in the Pacific Theater by serving as interpreters and translators against the Japanese as part of the Military Intelligence Service.

The 442nd in France. 

         The Japanese American soldiers, such as the 100th and the 442nd are often overlooked in the history of World War II. Despite the discrimination they met at home and on the battlefield, the Nisei soldiers proved to America their worth and loyalty. The role of minorities during World War II cannot be overstated; the efforts of Japanese Americans, African Americans, women, and Native Americans were vital to allied victory. While many recognized the effort and sacrifice of Japanese Americans in both theaters of war, these soldiers were not acknowledged for their service and bravery for almost six decades after the war. When they were finally recognized, twenty men from the 442nd were awarded the Medal of Honor. 


“Fighting for Democracy: Japanese Americans.” PBS. 2007. Web. Accessed March 28, 2017.   

Prelude to Invasion

The National D-Day Memorial is gearing up for their annual spring event, Prelude to Invasion. This year the Memorial is putting a new spin on this classic education program by making Prelude to Invasion a living history experience. Prelude will still include the exhibits and information such as the uniforms, tactics, gear and weapons the Allies used on D-Day, just in a new format. Prelude to Invasion takes place April 22, 2017 at the National D-Day Memorial.
Prelude to Invasion seeks to give guests the feeling of time travel. Costumed interpreters giving accounts of their experiences on D-Day will help create an immersive experience for guests to see the details of the Normandy Invasion in a new light. Guests can interact with a range of characters from factory workers like “Rosie the Riveter”,  to French Resistance fighters, and the leadership, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who made D-Day possible. Guests will be able to hear the stories of these brave men and women and interact with them directly to ask questions and experience how life was on both the home front and warfront in the 1940s.

Prelude to Invasion is also featuring a special experience for younger guests. This April, Prelude to Invasion will give children the chance to try their hand at living history. A special station will allow children to learn about how children their own age would have lived during World War II in several countries then allow them to dress in 1940s clothing and see what it means to be a costumed living history interpreter. This is an opportunity to take advantage of this April for the young historians in your family.

As always World War II encampments will be scattered though out the grounds and World War II veterans will be on cite to give their first hand experiences of the War.  Prelude to Invasion will be a great opportunity to experience World War II in a new light as well as show your gratitude to those men who lived that experience first hand. We hope you will be able to come out and join us April 22, 2017 at the National D-Day Memorial for this classic event with a new and exciting twist. Contact the Memorial’s Education Department at (540) 586-3329 ext. 111 or for more information.