Normandy Allies Founder Marsha Smith Visits Skeptics
Joanne Miceli

The Allied Forces’ June 6, 1944, D-Day landing at Normandy Beach, France, was one of World War II’s most significant operations in the fight against the Nazi regime. Five decades later, Marsha Smith visited the grave of her uncle who died in action in the battle to liberate Normandy. This trip to the Brittany American Military Cemetery at St. James, France, inspired Ms. Smith and her sister, Mary M. Stubler, to establish Normandy Allies, Inc., a nonprofit that promotes greater historical understanding of the 1944 liberation of Normandy and the reconstruction of France that followed.

Ms. Smith will join the Blair community at the Society of Skeptics on January 22 to discuss Normandy Allies’ annual remembrance tour of D-Day beaches, cemeteries, museums and villages. During her presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration, she will focus on legacy and remembrance and describe how high school students from across the U.S. travel to France each year for an in-depth experience of Normandy, past and present. Discussions with historians and eyewitnesses are part of this moving and meaningful tour, as are meetings with local residents and exploration of the beaches, battle sites and surrounding countryside.

Blair students have taken part in Normandy Allies experiences for nearly 20 years, thanks in large part to Archer Martin ’42, a Bronze Star- and Purple Heart-recipient who fought in the Normandy campaign when he was just 19 years old. His desire to give Blair students a firsthand look at Normandy and an understanding of the importance of the events that took place there have inspired his generous annual gifts to the School that help fund annual Normandy Allies trips. 

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings and liberation, and this summer’s two-week tour promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read more about the tour here.

The History of Skeptics

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here. 

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