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      Students send Upper Peninsula sand to cemeteries in Normandy

      June 6, 1944. It was the crucial day when over 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, and where 29,000 American lives were lost.

      â??Well, I know that it was the Navy on the ships that were trying to get on the beaches, but they had cannons that shot missiles, and they were trying to get up to the bunkers, and most of the people did not make it, because it was very hard,â?? said fourth grader, Brenton Houle.

      Brenton and his fourth grade class at Forest Park Elementary School were studying the Allied invasion on Normandy, known as D-Day.

      â??They were scared of dying and really scared that their friends would be gone, which many of them were,â?? Houle said. â??I have the feeling a lot: if I was in that, I would just be panicking, my heart would be pumping.â??

      And as part of their World War II lesson, the class did a special project to honor fallen Michigan soldiers at the cemeteries in Normandy.

      â??I got my sand from my sandbox,â?? said student, Graci Varoni. â??We took all the sand that we brought in, and we put it in a little Baggie and we shipped it.â??

      For their project, the students could gather sand from anywhere in Michigan; some of them chose to come right in the backyard of their school where they play at recess. They said itâ??s like bringing the fallen soldiers a little piece of home.

      A marching band from Stevensville in downstate Michigan will be performing at the cemeteries for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and it's here that they'll scatter the U.P. sand on the grave sites of the Michigan soldiers.

      â??It's always something that we remember: the men that sacrificed their lives for the countries,â?? Houle said. â??If they never would have done that, then every country you see, every island you see, would just be Nazi, full Nazi.â??

      â??It's cool it's going all the way over to France for those people that lost their lives for people like you and me,â?? Varoni said.