Sherrill and Tipton Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Establish Study Abroad Program in Normandy To Further Holocaust and WWII Education

June 11, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC — Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Representative Scott Tipton (CO-03) are introducing bipartisan legislation this week to establish a youth study abroad program in Normandy, France, within the U.S. Department of State. This program would allow for American high school students to learn the lessons of WWII and the Holocaust by visiting educational sites of historic importance during the Operation Overlord campaign. The bill comes less than a week after the world honored the 76th anniversary of the successful Allied invasion of Normandy that led to the eventual victory in Europe during World War II.

“For over 240 years, American and French citizens have shared a special bond since France came to the aid of American Revolutionary soldiers. That bond was cemented during WWII when hundreds of thousands of Americans came to France’s aid to liberate their nation from the Nazis,” said Rep. Tipton. “Today, the heroic actions of the Allied forces and the unimaginable suffering of European Jewish communities during the Holocaust have all but been forgotten by too many younger Americans. Fortunately, we can correct this downward trend by providing unique learning opportunities that honor the millions of lives lost during the war and the sacrifices made by countless others. As students prepare to become future world leaders, the Operation Overlord Youth Study Abroad Program will play a critical role in shaping their world view and ensure that the history of the last century lives on through future generations.”

“We must remember both the sacrifices and service of the Greatest Generation who secured freedom and prosperity for our world, as well as the horrors and lessons of the Holocaust,” said Rep. Sherrill, the lead co-sponsor of the bill. “Learning about WWII at the U.S. Naval Academy taught me about military tactics and the importance of fighting for our country’s highest ideals. Representative Tipton and I want to ensure students from across the country can study abroad and, through experiential learning, return home to apply the lessons of WWII to their own lives and in their own communities.”

In 2018, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany conducted a study which found that when asked to identify Auschwitz, 41 percent of respondents and 66 percent of millennials didn’t know the answer. Shortly thereafter in January 2020, another study from the Pew Research Center found that fewer than half of American adults know the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

This program would take place over a two-week period in the summer. To qualify, students must be 16-18 years of age, have an average GPA of 2.8 or more on a 4.0 scale, be a U.S. citizen, and submit a letter of recommendation to a U.S. Senator for consideration. The program would be funded through a combination of private donations made to the State Department and appropriated money through Congress.

The bill is expected to be introduced Thursday, June 11 during a pro forma session of Congress. Draft text of the legislation can be found here