National WWII Museum Names Reading Resident Winner of “Salute to Freedom Contest”
Sarah Turecamo to represent Massachusetts at Grand Opening of Museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
The following was submitted by The National WWII Museum:
Sarah Turecamo, an 11th grade student from Reading, Massachusetts, was named one of The National WWII Museum’s “Salute to Freedom” award winners and will be one of 51 students nationwide to travel to New Orleans to participate in the Grand Opening of the Museum’s new US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, in January 2013.
The contest, made possible by the Museum’s unique partnership with the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, called on qualifying students to submit an application and respond to two essay questions. Winners were chosen based on their knowledge of the past and its connection to the future as well as their knowledge of their state’s role in World War II. Winners were announced during the National History Day awards ceremony, held June 14 in College Park, Maryland.
Through National History Day, Sarah has learned that “History is not about listing facts and dates, but rather about connecting mankind throughout the generations.” She advanced to the National History Day Contest with a documentary on the Nuremburg Trials, but it was an essay she wrote on the Massachusetts’ contributions to World War II that won her the trip to New Orleans. In her essay, Sarah remarked, “When reflecting on the history of Massachusetts, most immediately think of the state’s influence during the colonial era. However, I believe it is just as important to recognize Massachusetts’s more recent accomplishments and contributions.”
“Sarah Turecamo is a great example of just one standout student who recognizes the important lessons of WWII, why it was fought, how it was won and how it continues to have an impact today,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of The National WWII Museum. “We hope that when she returns, she will share her experience with other students and help advance our goal of educating younger generations about the war that changed the world. It is particularly important for Massachusetts’ younger citizens to learn the stories of WWII now as there are currently only 29,165 WWII veterans left in the state and by 2020 there will be 6,050.”
In advance of his or her journey to The National WWII Museum, each of the winners will select and write captions for five images that represent their state’s contributions during WWII. These images, along with a short essay linking the images and emphasizing the state’s role in the war effort, will become part of a special exhibition at the Grand Opening celebration.
Winners and their chaperones will arrive in New Orleans prior to the festivities in January, spend two nights in downtown New Orleans and participate in the Grand Opening celebration. Travel costs, the hotel stay and meals for each student and chaperone will be covered by The National WWII Museum. The students and their chaperones will be among the first visitors to enter the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
The Museum’s new pavilion will pay tribute to all branches of the US Armed Forces who were active in the war. The pavilion will contain a spectacular collection of macro artifacts including a restored B-17 Flying Fortress and an interactive submarine experience based on the final mission of the USS Tang. A special section will feature a wall displaying images of all 464 WWII Medal of Honor recipients and interactive kiosks which allow visitors to access the military and personal history of each recipient.
Visitors to The National WWII Museum can also take advantage of a new History & Heritage travel package, which offers the rare opportunity to experience an inside look at the Museum’s historical treasures as well as the rich culture and history of New Orleans.
Here is Turecamo's essay:
World War II had a remarkable impact on Massachusetts through increases in industry, developments in technology, and the loss of many brave young men.
The industrial demands of WWII were extremely high because the United States needed to completely switch over its economy in order to produce wartime goods. Fortunately for Massachusetts, the rise of wartime industry led to increases in employment and general prosperity. The impact of WWII on Massachusetts industry is especially evident on the city of Lowell. Prior to WWII, the city of Lowell seemed to be set on a steady decline. The government was corrupt and ineffective, most housing was old, wages were extremely low for almost all workers, unemployment was far higher than the national average, and the main industry of the city, cotton, was dying. However, the wartime industry of WWII pulled Lowell out of its all-time low. Employment rose as factories began the switch over to wartime products and began to boom again. The shipping industry experience significant growth as well. During the war, Massachusetts ship industries produced large numbers of warships that played a key role in US naval battle. A few of the most famous ships produced were the battleship USS Massachusetts and the Gearing-class destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr..
During WWII, Massachusetts also experienced technological advances. In October 1940, the National Defense Research Committee formed the Radiation Laboratory (or the Rad Lab) in Cambridge, Massachusetts at MIT. This laboratory was created in order to study microwave radar and utilize it for military use. The Radiation Laboratory was extremely successful in improving radar systems. Also, through years of research, the Rad Lab developed LORAN, the first worldwide navigation system. The discoveries made at the Radiation Laboratory were utilized throughout WWII. For example, the H2X radar system was employed throughout the war for improving bomb guidance.
Obviously not all of the effects of WWII on Massachusetts were beneficial. Families were torn apart as many men were swept up by the wartime draft. Unfortunately, not all of these brave men returned home. A total of about 2,996 died either during combat or at a prison camp, 53 were reported missing, and 3,365 men were wounded. These statistics are far more than just numbers; they represent a deep, emotional scar left on Massachusetts from the war.
I believe it is extremely important to recognize Massachusetts’s contribution to the war through industry, technology, and brave men. In order to do so, I would recommend that more information should be available about what Massachusetts did. For example, state-specific exhibits could be added to the Massachusetts Museum of WWII. When reflecting on the history of Massachusetts, most immediately think of the state’s influence during the colonial era. However, I believe it is just as important to recognize Massachusetts’s more recent accomplishments and contributions. By making information readily available to the public about Massachusetts’s contribution to WWII, this goal will be accomplished.