History Student Asking for Your Help to Tell the Story of a WWII Silent Hero

For immediate release

Release dated: 
May 2, 2017
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, Minnesota Historical Society, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Gary Pettit, National History Day, 301-405-0536, gary@nhd.org

History Student Asking for Your Help to Tell the Story of a WWII Silent Hero

Forest Lake, MN—This Memorial Day, North Lakes Academy Charter School student Evan DuFresne will not be resting or attending cookouts. He will be researching the life of Private William J. Bremer, an American service member who is memorialized at the Normandy American Cemetery. DuFresne, and his teacher Christopher Stewart, are charged with telling the untold story of Private Bremer as part of the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute.

This institute takes 15 student and teacher teams on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through history. Each team selects one Silent Hero who died during or after the D-Day landings and spends months researching the story of this brave American through readings, historical research, and primary sources, such as war records, draft cards, and family interviews.

Students and teachers then follow in their Silent Hero’s footsteps as the institute takes them to walk the beaches of Normandy, France. While there, DuFresne will deliver a graveside eulogy for Private Bremer in the Normandy American Cemetery. To complete this task, DuFresne is asking anyone who knew this Silent Hero or his relatives to get in touch with Mr. Stewart.

“In my research, I discovered that Private Bremer attended Cretin High School from 1928-1930, which at the time was a private military academy. He participated in debate and was on student council,” said DuFresne. “I also discovered that both his mother and sister died when he was five and that his family moved around St. Paul quite a bit. He lived with his sister Henrietta before marrying Norma Schmuck of St. Paul. But, as far as I know, Private Bremer has no living relatives.”

DuFresne was excited to learn that Private Bremer has a local connection. “After Pvt. Bremer's death, his wife moved to Forest Lake, my own hometown. She married a local biology teacher, Herbert Harper, and became a prominent member of the town.” said DuFresne. “I would like to find more Private Bremer, we were similar ages and both wanted to serve our country. I am particularly interested in seeing any physical artifacts, photos, letters, or items that help tell his story.”

If you knew Private William J. Bremer, or his family, please contact Mr. Stewart at cstewart@northlakesacademy.org.

The Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute was created by Mr. Albert H. Small, a veteran himself, to help a new generation of young people understand the sacrifice made by Americans in WWII. The institute pays for students to undertake a rigorous study of the Normandy D-Day landings and takes teams to France where they walk in the footsteps of their Silent Heroes.

About National History Day
NHD is a non-profit education organization in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD offers year-long academic programs that engage over half a million middle- and high-school students around the world annually in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top student projects have the opportunity to advance to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD also seeks to improve the quality of history education by providing professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators. 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 nhd.org.

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 for 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 education.mnhs.org/historyday.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit 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.