Matthew Poth
Social Studies
Park View High School
Sterling, Virginia USA
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"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli . . ." are not just the first few words of the Marine Corps Hymn, they are the start of a stories past from which few can claim heritage. In 2004, I found myself standing on the yellow footprints of Parris Island taking up the banner and carrying on the proud tradition of those Marines who came before me and continuing it for those who would come after.

I have always had an interest in World War II, and that interest consumed me while serving in Iraq and reading about the 101st Airborne at the Battle of Bastogne. My interest was further intensified this past summer while taking part in the Mediterranean component of Understanding Sacrifice. When I found out that this year's program was in the Pacific Theater, I could hardly contain my excitement. My desire to be a part of this program extends past simply loving history and wanting to explore the past; it is a craving to honor those who fought and died while wearing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.

Last year's program gave me more tools that I can use in the classroom. While I had an interest in World War II as a whole, I had never spent time delving into the men and women who actually fought. The program not only introduced me to a new way of viewing the war, but taught me how to research service members, inspiring a new passion.

The passion that I have found for World War II has helped in my journey to becoming an exceptional history teacher. I strive to create a classroom environment where students become participants in learning by teaching with an energy and excitement that pull them into the lesson. Once students are hooked, I give them the tools necessary to continue doing research on their own and aid them in finding their own passion for history.