Monday, May 16, 2011

HRNM and MacArthur Team Up on "The Hunter, Hunted, and Homefront"

One of the goals of the Virginia World War II Heritage Alliance is to promote through public outreach programs.  Although each of the Alliance partners offers excellent educational programs to both schools and the general public, two of the Alliance partners (The MacArthur Memorial and The Hampton Roads Naval Museum) have conducted a joint public program for the last five years, titled "The Hunter, Hunted, and the Homefront."

With a strong emphasis on geography and its influence on history, HRNM Educators teach students about the involvement of attack submarines in the Pacific during World War II. Using periscopes, students become submarine captains and identify hostile targets as they learn about the historic events of World War II.

The MacArthur Memorial provides a close-up view of General Douglas MacArthur’s role in the Pacific war as well as the importance of home front mobilization in support of the war’s front lines.

Both institutions will be traveling to Gildersleeve Middle School in Newport News, VA this Friday to conduct the program for their 7th grade class.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black History Month Highlight: Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. (1922-2004)

As we close out the final days of Black History Month, it is important to note honor African American men and women who helped pave the way towards equality in the armed services from Virginia.

A native of Richmond, Va, Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. enlisted in the Navy Reserves in 1942 as a Fireman Apprentice after spending two years at Virginia Union University. In 1943, Gravely participated in the Navy's accelerated officer V-12 program, training at prestigious schools like UCLA and Columbia University.

Upon graduation in 1944 as an Ensign, Gravely was eventually assigned to the subchaser PC-1264, one of only two ships serving in the fleet with a predominately African American crew. Although many would say vessels like PC-1264 and the USS Mason were "test cases," both served with pride and distinction during the Second World War.

Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. would go on to serve in the Korean War and Vietnam War, earning the distinction as the first African American Flag Officer (Rear Admiral) in 1971.  He retired a three star Vice Admiral in the United States Navy in 1980.  

Here is a great clip made about the life, legacy, and namesake ship, USS Samuel L. Gravely (DDG 107)

"That was his life; he just moved silently doing what he knew he was to matter what situation he was put in." - Alma Gravely, wife and Gravely sponsor.

There is a street named in Richmond in his honor, as well as the Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. Elementary School in Haymarket, VA.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dick Winters of "Band of Brothers" dies

On January 2nd, Major Dick Winters passed away at the age of 92. Winters was veteran of World War II - known for his courage and his inspirational leadership.

Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Winters for his book Band of Brothers, and when HBO turned the book into a miniseries in 2001, Winters' exploits in World War II were prominently featured. When asked if he was a hero, Winters always maintained: "No...but I served in a company of soldiers."

Winters' death underscores a larger phenomenon in terms of how we remember World War II and the millions of men and women who served. As the Greatest Generation passes, it becomes even more important to keep the memory of World War II alive. The museums of the Virginia World War II Heritage Alliance are committed to this goal.