Toll Gate sophomore Rebecca Carcieri is looking for a “silent hero.”
Carcieri has found the names on the Internet of many “silent heroes” who died on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion, but she hopes to find a hero from Kent County, maybe even one from Warwick.
She wants to tell his story: the story of his life, the story of his family and how he is remembered. That story will be told on a website and will join the 90 stories of fallen soldiers that have been compiled in the last seven years since Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute started the project.
Carcieri won’t be alone in this project that will take her and Dr. Thalia Wood, Toll Gate Social Studies Department Head, to Normandy this June. The student-teacher team is one of 15 chosen nationally to participate in the intense research project that will take them to Washington, D.C. for five days before traveling to France and Normandy for another six days. Their travel expenses will be entirely covered by the institute.
Historic research is no stranger to either Carcieri or Wood. They both love it.
Carcieri has participated twice in National History Day, advancing to the nationals on her second year where she ranked best in the senior division in the state for her work on American cultural anthropologist and author Margaret Mead.
Wood said Roberta Gosselin, who was teaching social studies at Winman Junior High School at the time, introduced her to National History Day 27 years ago. She has been involved with the program ever since.
This experience, however, offers a new opportunity of working side-by-side with a student. As Wood related, this is not a competition. The goal is to tell the story of a silent hero and to have that available for everyone.
According to the project description, the work begins this month with an online class led by World War II historians that includes online discussions with their peers. They will receive assistance from a research volunteer from the National Achieves and Records Administration. On visiting Washington this June, they will participate in a scholarly study of war memorials in the nation’s capital. More research will be conducted in Normandy, and the last day will be a day of remembrance where students will present a eulogy at the grave of a silent hero buried at the Normandy American Cemetery based on their individual research of a member of the U.S. military who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Carcieri is hopeful of finding a silent hero with Warwick connections.
“I would better understand where he grew up,” she said. Better yet would be tracking down relatives and maybe even friends of the deceased.
Carcieri also hopes to gain insights on what her grandfather, Alfred Carcieri, went through as an Army clerk during World War II. She said her grandfather, now 95, served in France after the invasion, but he speaks little about the experience.
“He says he carried a typewriter on his back,” she said.
It’s not like history consumes Carcieri. She is enrolled in AP and honors courses, as well as being involved in many school activities. She plays the tenor saxophone and violin; is involved in the school’s concert/marching band, symphonic band, orchestra and chamber orchestra. She is also on the school field hockey team and mock trial team. She was on the student committee that moderated Warwick’s mayoral debate in October.
She hasn’t studied French, so that may present another challenge. But then Wood, who attended the American College in Paris for her freshman year of undergrad, should be able to help. Wood transferred to Brown, graduating with a degree in international relations. She went on to earn an MAT-C in history from Rhode Island College and eventually a PhD in education from URI.
While a transplant from Connecticut, Wood considers Rhode Island her home.
“I love its history and natural beauty,” she says.