Michael Armbruster ’19 Serves as Student Reporter for 75th D-Day Anniversary

Michael Armbruster '19 reflects on his experience as a student reporter, representing the U.S., for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. 

I have been volunteering at The National World War II Museum in downtown New Orleans since the summer of 2013. I work specifically in the Education Department presenting hands-on stations with artifacts as well as helping with summer camps and various other activities. One day, my boss, Ms. Baylie Albus, emailed me and told me that she thought that I should apply for a position as a student reporter for a project through the WWII Media and Education Center at the Museum.

Following up, I submitted a video audition and essentially forgot about it for a few weeks. I thought that there was absolutely no way that I would get the position as I have no acting experience whatsoever. To my surprise, I was selected. My role was to represent the United States as a host in a documentary/electronic field trip about the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied Invasion of Europe in World War II. The trip took place during the last week of September.

I was teamed with other reporters from Canada, the United Kingdom, and France. The New Orleans group consisted of Distance Learning Manager, Ms. Chrissy Gregg, The National WWII Museum’s Media Production Manager, Mr. Jeremy Burson, my father, Mr. Paul Armbruster, and me. Our group flew out of New Orleans on British Airways’ direct flight to London to begin our journey. Once in London, we met up with the Canadian student reporter and her mother and drove to Portsmouth, England on the southern coast. There, we joined the British reporter and her mother.

We filmed in and around Portsmouth at the Southwick House and the D-Day Story Museum. The Southwick House was the location where the actual planning of the naval component of the invasion (Operation Neptune) occurred and where General Eisenhower made the final decision to proceed with the D-Day Operation on June 6, 1944. The next day, we took the ferry across the English Channel and made it to Normandy, France where we stayed in the quaint French village of Courseulles-Sur-Mer, right on Juno Beach. Juno Beach was the beach assigned to Canadian forces during Operation Overlord. Our group then met up with the French reporter. In Normandy, each of us took turns reporting on events and interviewing on-site historians.

I filmed in some pretty spectacular places such as the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. The uniformity and dazzling white of the headstones and the quiet, serene setting truly took my breath away, especially when I thought about what happened there almost 75 years ago. It was truly an amazing experience. I learned how to be a reporter/host for the documentary, and I was able to view these amazing places not only through the lens of an American tourist but also as a historian trying to pay tribute to what happened in Normandy 75 years ago.

The documentary is currently being edited, however, the program will be streamed live into classrooms in the United States and abroad at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., and noon on Thursday, May 2, 2019. More details will be available on The National WWII Museum’s website, https://www.nationalww2museum.org/.

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