Learning from D-Day

A high-school teacher and long-time reader wrote yesterday to respond to “The ordeal of Omaha Beach,” which he read when I first posted it in 2004. He notes Professor David Gelernter’s recommended World War II course of study as well as my suggested essay assignment and comments:

I am a high school history teacher, and I teach a class on World War Two to 11th and 12th graders. As I read your post (reread it, actually, from years ago) I mentally checked off Gelernter’s “shoulds.” The only thing I don’t do is study the attitude of the intellectuals. (I can also confirm that students really enjoy reading personal memoirs.) I would add another “should,” one I’ve had good responses to — read Medal of Honor citations. You can find them all online now, and they are, to be blunt, inspirational.
As for your essay suggestion, I may work that in to my final this year, but I am giving them a small reading assignment today (June 6), a column written by a Washington Post writer in 1994 about his visit to Omaha Beach. I then ask them to respond to one of the quotes from a D-Day vet who questions whether or not the “current generation” could accomplish what they did. (Current in 1994 gets a little too close to me…)
Anyway, thanks for the repost. I thought I’d pass on that not all public school teachers are of the “Wisconsin” variety.

In a follow-up message the teacher identified the Washington Post column as “Their courage is a matter of my pride,” by Steve Twomey, published on May 2, 1994.


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