New Venture with Graduate Students 2010
A telephone call launched a new venture for Normandy Allies. Professor Jeffrey McIllwain contacted Marsha Smith in September 2009, saying that he had called the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), the organization responsible for the Normandy Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer and asked for assistance in planning a trip to Normandy. The ABMC suggested that he call Normandy Allies.
He then called the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford VA to ask for assistance. He met with the same suggestion—call Normandy Allies. “After the second suggestion,” said Professor McIllwain to Ms Smith, “I thought I had better give you a call.” The phone call blossomed into a joint venture between Graduate Program in Homeland Security at San Diego State University in California (SDSU) and Normandy Allies.
The goal of the SDSU Graduate Program is to provide courses for its students who are either currently employed or intend to have careers in the field of homeland security. One of the courses focuses on the history of D-Day (June 6, 1944) and the lessons that can be learned from it that are relevant to the provision of homeland security. The topics of this course include means of cooperation among allies, strategies to protect or destroy infrastructure, the importance of intelligence for both the Germans and for the Allies, the impact of the war on civilians, Allied efforts to provide medical care and other assistance to civilians, the role of the French Resistance, and many other issues.
As part of this course, fourteen grad students will travel to England and France from May 22 to June 9, 2010 to visit sites that are significant to the history of D-Day. In Normandy these sites will include the beaches where the Allies landed and the cities, museums, memorials, and battlegrounds in the region. Normandy Allies is assisting in identifying these sites, planning the itinerary, and introducing this group to our friends in France who would meet with the travelers and help them learn about the history.
LTC(Ret) Peter Combee, a member of the Normandy Allies International Experience team each July, will provide instruction on-site in Normandy. Professor McIllwain and LTC Combee will lead the trip and provide commentary about the history of the Battle of Normandy and its relation to the provision of homeland security.
The students will also meet with French citizens who are knowledgeable about this history either by direct experience or because of their active interest in preserving its history. The students will keep a daily journal, write a paper on one of the topics, and take exams after their trip.
Professor McIllwain will lay a wreath as part of the Memorial Day commemorations at the Normandy American Military Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. Normandy Allies has also arranged for the group to participate in the June 6th Ecumenical Service at the Cathedral of Bayeux and the D-Day Commemorations at the British Cemetery in Bayeux. These are the central observances for 2010 by the D-Day Commemoration Committee (the Landings Committee).
Normandy Allies welcomes this opportunity to extend our mission to graduate students.