Marines, students get history class in New Orleans
By SSgt. Jeff Middleton
| | May 08, 2003
MARINE CORPS RECRUITING STATION NEW ORLEANS --
A group of high school seniors and Marines from Recruiting Station New Orleans received a history lesson as they toured the National D-Day museum in New Orleans May 8th.
The teacher who organized the outing was a recent attendee of Recruiting Station New Orleans' Educators Workshop, Karen Rogers who thought it would be a good idea to have the Marines accompany her students.
"I am a huge supporter of the Marine Corps now," said Rogers from Loyd Star High School, Brookhaven, Miss., "Anything I can do to help the Marines and to increase awareness, I do."
The class was divided into three groups and toured the 70,000 square-foot facility that pays tribute to the American men and women who fought during World War II.
The National D-Day Museum's exhibits encompass the June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy, the Home Front during WWII, and the D-Day Invasions in the Pacific. The exhibit incorporates text panels, artifacts, and Personal Account stations in which visitors may listen to the stories of WWII veterans and others who supported the war effort.
The mission of the D-Day museum is "to celebrate the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who won World War II and promote the exploration and expression of these values by future generations," according to its web site.
This is exactly why Rogers brought her class to the museum, she explained.
"I think these kids are a good generation," Rogers said. "I think it is very important to take some time and allow them to learn some history that has a profound correlation to the present."
The students also had the unique opportunity to draw on the knowledge of Alton Ricks. Ricks' daughter, Sherry Brown, is a schoolteacher at Loyd Star. Rogers invited Ricks because he is a World War II Veteran. Ricks went through Marine Corps infantry training in 1945 when he was 18. He was sent overseas in August 1945 and was ready to go into combat.
"We were preparing for an invasion of Japan," said Ricks. "We were told that it was scheduled to happen in October but it never did because of the atomic bomb.
"This trip was very worthwhile," Ricks said. "This is the first time I've been here and I found it very interesting. These students were very interested in the war."
One such student was Jamakia Henderson, a senior at Loyd Star.
"One part that I thought was the most interesting was the fake trucks and ships we used," said Henderson.
Henderson is referring to the allied "Transportation Plan" designed to confuse the enemy and set up as a diversion for the invasions on D-Day. Radio communications were used to deceive the enemy into thinking that troops, vehicles, and ships were being routed to an area. The trucks and ships that were being referenced were actually inflatable decoys that fooled the enemy into dedicating manpower and equipment to the area.
"I thought that was amazing," said Henderson. "Many things that we've seen here today have opened my eyes to a lot of history that I was unaware of."
"This is a great thing for these students," said Maj. James D. Christmas, commanding officer, Recruiting Station New Orleans. "It's important for them to know the history behind the freedom they enjoy today. I was impressed with the respect they showed for this history and for the men and women that were a part of it."
While touring the museum, the students met and talked with veterans and visitors from throughout the United States. Some of the visitors, WWII veterans, commented that the Marines in uniform are part of a great generation. This was in reference to a book written by Tom Brokaw entitled "The Greatest Generation," about the young men and women who came of age during the Great Depression and WWII.
"I was very impressed with the interest all the young men and women showed about the history of a war that took place over 50 years ago," said SSgt. Thomas Sullivan, recruiter, Recruiting Substation Westbank, La. "I was also taken by the D-Day museum's detail on the facts and exhibits. I think that every Marine that checks into RS New Orleans should go see this, it'll keep us Marines on recruiting duty in check on just how important our job is while on this special duty."