Brother Martin student retraces Normandy heroism

By Michael Armbruster, Clarion Herald Contributing writer
Brother Martin senior

As a volunteer since 2013 at The National World War II Museum in downtown New Orleans, I have been giving hands-on presentations with artifacts in the education department. My work also has included helping with summer camps. 

When my boss, Baylie Albus, informed me of an opportunity to be a student reporter through the WWII Media and Education Center, I jumped at the chance.

I submitted a video audition, but with no acting experience, I thought my chances of being selected were slim. So, I was surprised to be selected to represent the United States as a host in a documentary/electronic field trip about the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied Invasion of Europe in World War II in late September.

I was teamed with reporters from Canada, the United Kingdom and France. The New Orleans group consisted of distance learning manager Chrissy Gregg; National WWII Museum’s media production manager Jeremy Burson; my father Paul Armbruster; and me. 

Our group flew British Airways from New Orleans on a direct flight to London. Once there, we joined the Canadian student reporter and her mother and drove to Portsmouth, England, on the southern coast, to join  the British reporter and her mother.

We filmed in and around Portsmouth at the D-Day Story Museum and The Southwick House, where the actual planning of the naval component of the invasion (Operation Neptune) occurred and where General Dwight D. Eisenhower made the final decision to proceed with the D-Day Operation on June 6, 1944. 

Our journey also included a ferry ride across the English Channel to Normandy, France, where we stayed in the quaint French village of Courseulles-Sur-Mer, right on Juno Beach, the beach that was assigned to Canadian forces during Operation Overlord. 

In Normandy, our group met up with the French reporter, and we took turns reporting on events and interviewing on-site historians.

I filmed in some pretty spectacular places such as the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. The uniformity and dazzling white of the headstones and the quiet, serene setting truly took my breath away, especially when I thought about what happened there almost 75 years ago. It was truly an amazing experience. I learned how to be a reporter/host for the documentary, and I was able to view these amazing places not only through the lens of an American tourist but also as a historian trying to pay tribute to what happened in Normandy.

The documentary is currently being edited, however, the program will be streamed live into classrooms in the United States and abroad May 2, 2019 at 6 and 9 a.m. and noon. For details, visit The National WWII Museum’s website, https://www.nationalww2museum.org/.

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