TACOMA – Charles Wright Junior Taylor Walsh, of Federal Way, Wash., was one of 15 students selected from a pool of international student applicants to participate in a prestigious and immersive months-long history program concentrating on the Normandy invasion during World War II. She is the only winner from the Pacific Northwest region selected.
The 2014 Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute is one part of nonprofit education organization National History Day’s programming. This year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and Taylor—along with Charles Wright Academy history teacher Nick Coddington, and 14 other student-teacher pairs, along with NHD staff members—will travel to France this summer to follow in the footsteps of soldiers, sailors, and Marines to gain a better understanding of the ultimate sacrifice made my so many.
“The students and teachers who have worked with the NHD organization attest to the powerful impression this program has on them,” says Dr. Cathy Gorn, Executive Director of NHD, in a statement from the organization. “It not only teaches them about the past, but [it] helps place current and future events into context. This program brings to life the importance of quality history education and shows reverence and respect to those who gave their lives for their country. These students will emerge from this program with a greater understanding of the events and people who shaped their lives and the world as they know it today.”
The institute begins at home, as Taylor will consult with military record keepers in the coming weeks to “adopt” and research a Washington state individual who fought in the campaign and is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery above Omaha Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Over the course of the next five months, she will study the Normandy campaign from various angles—military strategy and tactics, government policy, and through the eyes of her adopted service member (for whom she will build a commemorative website)—to better understand the political, economic, and cultural repercussions of the invasion and its aftermath.
Then, in June, Taylor and Nick Coddington, a history teacher at Charles Wright Academy, will travel to Washington, D.C., to complete research at the National Archives, visit memorial sites, and attend lectures and seminars with historians and survivors. They will all then travel to Paris and Normandy in France for ten days of gathering additional historical background before Taylor will deliver a eulogy for her adopted soldier or sailor at his gravesite and present on his role in the campaign during a remembrance ceremony to close the institute.