WISCASSET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Friday was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, one of the pivotal events in modern American history. There were ceremonies in France Friday morning, as world leaders and old veterans gathered by the beaches to remember the thousands who died in Normandy that day.
Here at home, D-Day observances may not have been as elaborate, but the message was the same.
In Wiscasset, the entire high school took the day to teach students about many aspects of D-Day. They learned about the science of testing the invasion beaches and tracking the weather and tides.
French class studied the work of the French resistance. The Social Studies classes looked at the difficult choices of where to stage the invasion. Several students said they had learned a bit about D-Day in middle school, but said this extended focus on the invasion helped make the history more real.
Part of that reality is the realization that many of the soldiers who stormed the beaches on D-Day were essentially the same age as these students. Junior Alecia Faulkingham called that fact "mind blowing." Faulkingham said she tried to picture herself, at that age, doing what the soldiers did. "I can't even imagine having to go and drop out of a plane into this unknown territory," she said.
Junior Thomas Anderson had a similar reaction, but he also said its important for 2014 students to understand the 1944 invasion: "It shaped our history and helped us become who we are today and develop the policies we have today," said Anderson.
The day ended with a full assembly, at which Wiscasset World War II veteran Chester Crocker was finally awarded the medals he earned in the war, but had never received. With the eight medals in hand, Crocker, now 88, exchanged salutes with Maine Bureau of Veterans director Peter Ogden. The audience of students –some the age he was during the war – gave him a standing ovation.