Red Lake Student Selected to Tell a Hero's Tale in Normandy, France

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 9, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society, 651-259-3137, 
Gary Pettit, National History Day, 301-405-0536,

Red Lake Student Selected to Tell a Hero's Tale in Normandy, France

Autumn May of Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minnesota has been accepted into the prestigious Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute. Along with Red Lake High School teacher, Marcia Roline, May will embark on a year-long course of study that concludes with a journey to Normandy, France to honor a WWII Silent Hero who died during or after the Normandy invasion. Courses, materials and international travel are paid for by the generosity of Mr. Albert H. Small.

May and Roline join 14 other student and teacher teams from around the country on this educational journey. Teams select one Silent Hero from their hometown or state who is memorialized at the Normandy American Cemetery. Roline and May then conduct in-depth historical research on the life of this Silent Hero. Through primary sources such as war records, draft cards or interviews with descendants, they will learn about conducting historical research while telling the tale of this Silent Hero.  

In June 2018, teams will travel to Washington, D.C., to finish their research with help from historians and college professors. While in D.C. they will tour the World War II Memorial, conduct research at the National Archives and prepare for an expedition to the beaches of D-Day. The final leg of their journey is to Normandy, France where they will tour Omaha and Utah Beaches, walking in the footsteps of history. After visiting museums, sites of historic battles, and churches that were used as field hospitals, the journey concludes at the Normandy American Cemetery. There, May will deliver a graveside eulogy for the Silent Hero she spent months researching.

“This program helps a new generation of Americans understand the sacrifice for freedom made during Operation Overlord,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “Nothing relates the significance of the sacrifices made in Normandy better than a personal connection. Students become well acquainted with their Silent Heroes, often referring to them as a friend or family member. The eulogies they deliver are often tear-filled, powerful and incredibly moving. I am confident Autumn will walk away with a powerful understanding of the sacrifices so many Silent Heroes made in World War II.”

The Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute is coordinated by National History Day® and is funded by a generous donation from Mr. Albert H. Small, a veteran himself.

May, under the guidance of Roline, will create a memorial profile on These pages live on as a digital memorial to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. After participating in the program, May and Roline will be charged with presenting the story of their Silent Hero to local schools, community groups and veterans’ organizations.

“These digital records of the life and actions of a Silent Hero will live on long after these teams return,” said Gorn. “They serve as a digital monument to the sacrifices made by these heroic individuals.”

To date, the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute has told the stories of over 100 Silent Heroes. Each of these heroes lives on in the digital memorials created by past participants and remains a powerful memorial to the sacrifice of Americans in WWII.

About National History Day® (NHD)
NHD is a nonprofit education organization headquartered in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD promotes an appreciation for historical research among middle and high school students through multiple annual programs. More than half a million students participate in the annual National History Day Contest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD provides professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators of all levels. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, Jostens, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Joe Weider Foundation and the WEM 2000 Foundation of the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation. For more information, visit

About National History Day in Minnesota
National History Day in Minnesota is a cocurricular historical research program that builds college readiness and communication skills for middle and high school students. 27,000 students from over 250 schools participate in Minnesota each year. The program in Minnesota is a partnership of the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota, College of Liberal Arts. Program support is also provided by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. For more information, visit

About Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.