Anna Elsen, a student at Ellendale High School in Ellendale, North Dakota, and her teacher, Candice Klipfel, are one of only 16 student-teacher teams from across the United States selected to participate in the second annual Sacrifice for Freedom: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute. The program, coordinated through National History Day, is sponsored by Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, the USS Missouri Memorial Association and Pacific Historic Parks.

This institute brings student-teacher teams from Hawaii and American Samoa together with teams from the U.S. mainland to study, consider and reflect upon World War II in a way that few have done before. Over the next six months, students and teachers will read books and selected materials, engage in online discussions, and research a "Silent Hero," a military service member who died in World War II and is buried or memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In June, the teams will meet in Oahu where they will walk in the footsteps of history and learn firsthand about the impact of World War II in the Pacific. Travel and program expenses are provided for all participants. The experience will culminate with the completion and presentation of the teams’ Silent Hero eulogies and profiles, which will be featured on NHDSilentHeroes.org, as well as the websites of the sponsoring organizations.

“We are grateful to be working again with our friends and partners from the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites to offer this extraordinary opportunity,” said Cathy Gorn, National History Day executive director. “The students and teachers selected for this year’s institute represent many different parts of the country. Through this invaluable academic experience, I hope participants gain a deep appreciation for those who served and sacrificed in the Pacific Theater of World War II, as well as a thorough understanding of the essential role Hawaii played in those operations.”

“This year, our nation will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II," said Shauna Tonkin, diretor of education and visitor experience at Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. "It is vitally important to provide opportunities for teachers and students to study the history of the war in the authentic settings provided in Hawaii. The Pearl Harbor Historic Site partners are honored to be part of this unique program that creates personal connections to the past, and inspires teachers and students to keep the stories alive.”

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Applications for the second annual Sacrifice for Freedom: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute were submitted by 129 teams from across the country. The 16 teams selected for the 2020 institute represent American Samoa, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Virginia.