Alumna uses history degree to honor veterans
As a lover of history, Liberty University alumna Maggie Mitchell (’13, ’15) gets to live her dream each day in her role as associate director for programming and events at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va.
But the job means so much more to Mitchell than educating guests on the history — there is the added dimension of honoring a legacy of heroism and sacrifice.
“Working here is incredibly unique because it is not just a job. It is not just a museum,” Mitchell said. “It has this tangible purpose. I am doing it for our veterans. It is a passion — serving these veterans and keeping their legacy alive. It means so much more than spitting off facts and telling stories.”
Mitchell earned a B.S. in Social Sciences with a government minor and an M.A. in History from Liberty. Her training prepared Mitchell well for her current role, which she assumed after interning with the memorial six years ago.
“The history department taught me tangible research skills that I have been able to apply here (at the memorial),” she said. “I know folks from other schools who have not had that opportunity. The master of history program encourages you to do lots of presentations, so it makes you very comfortable with random people.”
Part of Mitchell’s job includes creating programming for guests, ranging from school groups to retirees, as well as planning and coordinating events.
“It is really cool to be able to find engaging and unique ways to help people learn more about World War II and what it means to serve in the military,” she said.
Mitchell’s passion to honor the legacy of veterans extends beyond her day job. She also helped found the Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight, which is part of a national network dedicated to showing appreciation to veterans by taking them, free of charge, to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials in their honor.
“It’s been incredible,” she said. “Many of these guys from our area have never been to D.C. to see the monuments that were made in their honor. Many of them have never received the thanks that they were due. … It’s a long day, but these veterans are treated like rock stars everywhere they go.”
Serving those who have served our nation is important to Mitchell, whose father was a Vietnam-era marine and whose grandfather is a WWII Navy veteran.
“Working here (at the memorial) and working closely with veterans, I have been able to see how much they care about their country, how much they care about their service, how much they take pride in it,” Mitchell said. “And I am fortunate here to see people step up and say, ‘Thank you.’ I plan to always be involved in veterans organizations and support services. I think it is important to honor those who were willing to lay their lives down for our freedoms.”
Mitchell has lately been working very hard at the memorial in preparation for the 75th Anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy (D-Day). Liberty University President Jerry Falwell will participate in a ceremony commemorating these American heroes. Learn more about the anniversary events at DDay.org/75th.