History Department
History Department

2005 Normandy Scholars

Sun, May 1, 2005

The Scholars were keen to get the arduous work of the program behind them and finally actually see the places where history was made.

They flew directly to Paris, France. After a few days in the French capital, they went to Normandy where they walked the beaches where General Eisenhower, commander of Operation Overlord, launched his surprise attack against the Nazis on June 6, 1944.

The same day they left for their tour through Europe, The Daily Texan had a story on a photography exhibit opening at the Harry Ransom Center commemorating Victory Day in Russia. Combat photojournalists in Russia show what happened on the Eastern Front of the war which has not been as widely publicized NSP Faculty member, Dr. Charters Wynn, associate history professor, was also quoted in the article. He reminded us that the Soviet Union suffered more than 25 million casualties during the war (American death toll was 400,000) and quoted from Churchill who said, it was the Russians that "tore the guts out of the Nazi war machine." The Normandy Scholars definitely remembered that quote--some remarked it was Dr. Wynn's favorite Churchill quote.

Recently they had the honor of meeting and talking with Frank Denius, one of the 10 most decorated WWII veterans from America, and patron of the Normandy Scholar Program, at a luncheon with the Liberal Arts Dean Richard Lariviere.

The renowned Austin lawyer told them he disagreed with what one author wrote about World War II being a "good war." Denius said, "no war is good, but if you have to fight, you go and do what you have to."

When asked by the Scholars what he learned most from the experience, he told them the importance of "self-discipline." The Normandy Scholars will be visiting some of the same places where Denius was in combat and will also be placing yellow roses on the graves of the men who lost their lives from his battalion at the American cemetery in Normandy.

Denius went on to say that while the beach scenes in the movie Saving Private Ryan were very accurate, there were other scenes in the movie that were "just Hollywood." "We never yelled at each other to communicate, we always used hand signals," he said.

We were in communication with the Normandy Scholars and Faculty throughout their trip and since their return, gathering photos and impressions about their experiences, so please visit the web site periodically for more news.

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