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WWII Veteran speaks to Nagel students before study abroad trip

Cincinnati native and decorated World War II veteran Ed Burke spoke to Nagel Middle School students on April 2, just days before the group of 40 students and 7 chaperones travel overseas to visit the places they’ve learned about in class.

“For a lot of our kids, when we talk about D-Day or they see things, they think of movies or what is on television. And I really think the opportunity to hear a live historian from a historic standpoint, as a history teacher, it is very rare to find that. So it was a real blessing for them to get that,” said teacher, community partnership specialist, and global education ambassador Donna Lauver.

While serving with the U.S. Army from 1942 — 1946, Burke was a Company A 821st, 29th Division Tank Destroyer Battalion Commander. He fought in the invasion of Normandy, “The Battle of the Buldge,” and other battles during WWII.

“There was a photographer that I thought was with the 29th Infantry Division, but he turned out to be from Life Magazine,” said Burke. “Years later, I saw all of this was on film that I never knew existed and that is how I got the Silver Star,” Burke told the group of students.

In addition to the Silver Star, Burke also received a Bronze Star, French Legion of Honor, and other medals and badges for his service.

The students and chaperones will fly into London and spend time in Windsor, Canterbury, White Cliffs of Dover, and Normandy. Students will also travel to Saint Michel and Paris during the extended learning opportunity.

“That to me is how we take the classroom and extend it further out,” said Lauver. “These opportunities, which they are opportunities, we are very blessed here in Forest Hills to get those opportunities for our students and expand on them. The kids really get to see what they see in a book, and get to see it come to life, and it’s very different,” she said.

Some students will also have projects to work on that are related to the study abroad trip. The trip aligns with renaissance themes discussed in the classroom, but also aligns with new content that students will see as 9th graders.

“I am really excited. This is my first time going out of the country but I am also nervous because it’s pretty new for me,” said 8th grade student Will Forte. "I am really grateful that I have the opportunity to be on this trip and I have the opportunity to meet this veteran," he said.

Burke says he hopes the students will have a great time and also reflect on pivotal moments in history.

“I hope they understand what the soldiers went through in order to safeguard what they have now,” said Burke.

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