A Tallahassee middle school student’s history project will soon be available for study by scholars from all over the world as it joins the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“I had to do a history fair project for sixth grade because it was required and we had to pick a time in history that was a turning point that made something change in history," said Amoreena Tillman a student at Cobb Middle School.
She says her project began as just another class assignment, "So I decided to pick that because I already knew a little bit about it from my grandfather.”
Amoreena’s grandfather, Dwight Aldrich, was nineteen years old when he was shipped off to World War Two. His U-S Army infantry unit was among those charged with liberating the German slave labor camps.
“He told me about when he opened the camp that he liberated the Alam concentration camp. He told me a lot of horrible stories about what was in that camp and what it was like being in the army.”
Although her granddad’s video interview formed the heart of the project, Amoreena says she used other sources in the project.
“I also got good information from my mom and some of my other relatives. I also got some information from books and web sites that I found, although I also took some prior knowledge I already had.”
Amoreena’s project did well at first, but then hit a snag.
“Well I got past my school level and then I went to county and I didn’t get past that. I was the last person on the list to be judged, so I did not get in.”
That seemed to be the end of the line.
“I was pretty discouraged after I lost the county because I was really hoping I’d go on. But then my mom and dad thought that maybe they could send it to the museum itself – the National Holocaust Museum – and they sent it to the museum where they took a look at it. They decided they’d put it in their national archives.”
Meaning Amoreena’s project is now considered part of the museum’s historic source material.
“I wasn’t really expecting it to go that far. I was like, ‘Whoa! Give me a second to process all this!’ But just the thought of them looking at my work and actually drawing research from it, drawing conclusions from it, it makes me proud to know my work is being looked at by national scholars and professionals and experts in the subject.”
Amoreena’s parents, dad Drew and mom Amelia are still a bit overwhelmed by what their daughter has accomplished.
“She’s taken this project and she’s on a mission and she has done some great things. She spoke to the Leon County School Board, she was honored at her school, she was honored as ‘Student of the Month’ for her accomplishments and just last week spoke at the Holocaust Education Teachers workshop.”
On November 5, Amoreena will be a special guest at the Kristallnacht 75th Anniversary Memorial dinner at Goodwood, hosted by the Holocaust Education Resource Council. As for Amoreena, she’s determined to do whatever she can in the cause of advancing justice and human dignity.
“It’s important because it’s happening in other countries right now. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. Some people think, ‘Oh, it’s the past; it doesn’t matter, it can never happen again.’ But that’s not true. History has a way of repeating itself.”
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