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Coggins’ WWII study leads to Europe

Erin Coggins at Sparkman High School has been selected to participate in "Understanding Sacrifice" program, affiliated with National History Day and American Battle Monuments Commission. (CONTRIBUTED)
Erin Coggins at Sparkman High School has been selected to participate in “Understanding Sacrifice” program, affiliated with National History Day and American Battle Monuments Commission. (CONTRIBUTED)

HARVEST – The National History Day organization has chosen Erin Coggins at Sparkman High School to participate in “Understanding Sacrifice,” a highly competitive, year-long professional development program.

American Battle Monuments Commission sponsors the program. Coggins and 17 other educators will engage in its World War II-focused program and travel to southern France and Italy.

At Sparkman, Coggins is journalism adviser of “The Crimson Crier” and “The Senator” and teaches the “Great Wars” course.

Focusing on the Mediterranean, participants will select one American service member buried or memorialized at a commission cemetery in Southern Europe or North Africa. For one year, these teachers will use local and archival resources to conduct in-depth research for this soldier.

“Teaching and researching World War II is my passion,” Coggins said. “I fell in love with World War II while at the University of Alabama where I chose the great journalist Ernie Pyle as a research topic. As a teacher, I always inspire my students to remember those who fought the heroic fight.”

History isn’t about dates, Coggins said, but “about people who participated both on the homefront and battlefield. The trip will make me a better historian, a better teacher and a better American; in return, my students can be better at the same things.”

“I’m honored that the staff of National History Day saw the great potential in allowing me to participate in this wonderful program,” Coggins said.

The program pays for European travel, supplies and courses. Teachers must pay for travel to Washington D.C. and any personal expenses. Coggins acknowledged Huntsville VFW for supporting her endeavors.

“Ms. Coggins has a strong passion for history and her background as a journalism teacher gives her a superb inquisitiveness that will benefit the entire group of teachers on this year’s ‘Understanding Sacrifice’ program,” National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn said.

Established in 1974, the National History Day non-profit organization in College Park, Md. provides professional development and materials to teachers.

For more information, visit nhd.org.

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