CHCCS Students Launch "NC to Normandy 2019" Campaign
Veterans Day weekend 2018 will long be remembered by six Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools students as the official launch of their “NC to Normandy 2019” campaign to bring two World War II veterans back to Normandy, France, for the 75th Commemoration Ceremonies next June. The students, along with two Smith Middle School teachers, are the Envoys of Honor, dedicated to celebrating the sacrifices and courage of the WW II veterans who fought and prevailed at Omaha Beach, Normandy. Both veterans will be accompanied on the journey by a family member, as well as the team from CHCCS, who will serve as French interpreters and provide travel support.
A whirlwind of activities started on Friday, November 9 when the project made the evening news on WRAL and WTVD, after reporters interviewed several of the students at Chapel Hill High School. The next day, by special invitation, students and their team leaders joined a Veterans Day celebratory lunch at Carolina Meadows Retirement Community. Sunday, Veterans Day, they hosted their first major fundraising event at Smith Middle School, a presentation by a local expert on D-Day, and then on Monday, November 12, the full team went to Raleigh to the French Consulate to share their plans and seek support from the North Carolina French community. Not bad for a holiday weekend!
The students are all sophomores: Matthew Griesedieck, Elena Lowinger, Cathy Charles, and Kaelyn Elien from Chapel Hill High School, and Daniel Price and Miles Charles from East Chapel Hill High. The Smith leaders are French teacher, Robin McMahon, and social studies teacher, Tony Carter. In 2014, a group of four CHCCS students traveled with McMahon, Carter and two veterans to the 70th commemoration at Normandy, so this team will be able to build on that experience.
The students have identified Dr. George Chall as their first veteran. As a young combat medic, Dr. Chall cared for German prisoners of war as well as American soldiers in General Patton's 3rd army, and he has already shared unforgettable stories with his future travel partners. He and his wife are excited to see the peaceful lands he helped liberate. A second veteran will be chosen soon.
“Giving these students a chance at an oral history and to hear living history by meeting with WWII veterans and by also at the same time honoring them by serving them, by escorting them over to Normandy and showing them around and acting as translators, I believe is one of the most powerful things these students can do," said Carter, in the WTVD interview on November 9.
The lunch at Carolina Meadows on November 10 provided another powerful history lesson. “Our students spent two hours talking with WWII veterans and their spouses or friends during lunch,” said McMahon. “CHCCS can be very proud of how our students engaged with the Greatest Generation.”
The D-Day presentation took place on Veterans Day at Smith Middle School. The speaker was John Haynes, and the event was ticketed, so the fundraising has now begun in earnest. “I felt Sunday was a definite success,” said Carter. “Mr. Haynes gave a riveting and detailed description surrounding D-Day. The personal stories of individual soldiers gave the presentation a captivating element. Mr. Haynes generously donated his time to present on D-Day, as a fundraiser for ‘NC to Normandy 2019.’ It was a great event, with many people in the audience staying after to honor the veterans in attendance.”
"NC to Normandy" parent, Kim Price, attended and reported, “Mr. Haynes’ presentation really succeeded in weaving together the logistics of the D-Day invasion with the stories of individual men who participated in the invasion – some who lived and others who did not. My son, Daniel, was fortunate to be on the Belgian Exchange with Ms. McMahon in 2017. At that time, he was profoundly moved by their visit to Omaha Beach, the Normandy American Cemetery, and Sainte-Mere Eglise. Mr. Haynes put faces and stories to those places. Daniel, and our family in general, are regretting the conversations we did not have and stories we do not know from uncles who served in the pacific theater of WWII – one in Burma and one on a battleship. Both Mr. Haynes and the veterans that Daniel is meeting in this process make history come alive and, most importantly, allow these students to make important connections to this history and what is going on in the world right now.”
To donate on PSF page, click donate and type NC to Normandy in comments section.
To donate by check, send to Public School Foundation, 750 S. Merritt Mill Rd. Chapel Hill, NC 27516-- write NC to Normandy in subject line.