Fond of history? Learning about events like the Battle of Normandy, and landmarks, including, Westminster Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, and Stonehenge from books is pretty cool, but seeing them in person is a whole different “edventure.” That’s exactly what 29 Gibbons students and four educators experienced on their recent school-sponsored trip to Western Europe.
“I learned a lot about the history of each place we visited through museums and memorials and then I was able to recognize the impact of those historic events on the culture of the areas as we explored the cities.” Connor Reilly '18
This year, during mid-winter break, the group traveled for 10 days to such places as London, Paris and Normandy. They also attended Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London, and visited Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, which housed Christ’s Crown of Thorns for hundreds of years. While in the Normandy region the group also went to the American Cemetery and Memorial to honor WWII soldiers buried there.
Among them is Gibbons Alumnus Captain Philip B. Edelen, a WWII chaplain and a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, who was killed in the Battle of Normandy. At his graveside, the students placed flowers and a small Gibbons flag, (pictured right) and said words of thanks for Captain Edelen’s service.*
“The size, scale, and sacrifice of the Allied soldiers in Normandy was made more real,” noted AP History Educator Taylor Blanton, who organizes the trip each year. “While we study these things in books, seeing thousands of white crosses in the American Cemetery touched
s in a profound way.”
Connor Reilly ’18 added, “I learned a lot about the history of each place we visited through museums and memorials and then I was able to recognize the impact of those historic events on the culture of the areas as we explored the cities.”
So what was his favorite part of the trip? “I really enjoyed being immersed in different cultures and having the ability to do that alongside my classmates,” he said. “It was fantastic to be able to form new friendships and strengthen existing ones by going on the trip, both with my peers and with the educators.”
*Gibbons learned about Captain Edelen, thanks to Rebecca Wicklin ’19. She spent last year researching him because of her participation in the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute.