Whether it’s solving the world’s biggest problems or investigating the potential of novel discoveries, researchers at UCF are on the edge scientific breakthroughs that aim to make an impact. Through the Research in 60 Seconds series, student and faculty researchers condense their complex studies into bite-sized summaries so you can know how and why Knights plan to improve our world.

Name: Marie Oury
Major: History 

Why are you interested in this research?
This research has many layers for me:  It links France, my home country, and Florida, where my children were born and where I live now. It explores the regions of France where French people still live with the reminders of American troops’ passage and sacrifice. It investigates World War II, a period for which many questions remain unanswered. It impacts communities in Florida, helping heal family and community wounds opened eighty years ago. But most of all, it changes UCF students who participate in this research. Once our undergraduate students start working on the biography of a soldier, they not only dive into the man or the woman’s life and learn about his/her social and economic environment, but the students also humanize periods such as the Great Depression and World War II. Through their soldier’s life, students understand the impacts of major events or periods on Florida families in a way that no historical account can. It is a powerful way for students to learn about and relate to their communities’ history.  And they learn that American soldiers still matter to in France, in the communities they died to liberate.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.

How did you get started in research at UCF?
I started researching history at UCF with the Veteran Legacy Program (VLP), a grant program sponsored by the VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA). In 2018, during the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, I researched Floridians who served in World War I and who died and are buried in France in the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) cemeteries. I traveled with Drs. Amelia Lyons, Amy Giroux and Connie Lester to France to visit the cemeteries, and the Veterans we studied. This VLP program led me to work in 2022 for the Florida-France Soldier Stories project, also led by Dr. Amelia Lyons.

Who is your mentor? Who inspires you and how?
Dr. Amelia Lyons took me under her wing when I started at UCF. I was not sure I would find my place in a History MA program at an American university. I came from a business background, from another country, and had not been in school for years. Dr. Lyons trusted me and gave me the opportunity to change my career path. Through her classes and the two Veterans research projects she leads, Dr. Lyons and the UCF history department taught me the techniques and skills historians need. I witnessed how she inspired her students to become better historians in every project in which I have participated; she is always looking at new ways to involve, teach, and challenge them—and expecting the best of them in return. I am very grateful to have Dr. Lyons as my advisor, and I am confident that the day I graduate, she will have prepared and equipped me very well to work as a historian.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
UCF empowered me to do research thanks to the funding, the resources, and the communication platform it provides for this project. UCF, the History department, and the UCF library offer tools, research material, support, and a nurturing environment for researchers to gather, exchange, work together, and learn from each other competencies. Such a public history project is not the result of one person; it can only be successful thanks to teamwork.

Why is this research important?
This research helps students and Florida communities to remember the sacrifices men and women made during World War II. These soldiers, buried in France, had their lives cut short and left behind devastated families and communities in Florida as well as in France. In a world where intolerance and tensions grow, as in our world today, I believe it is important, especially for the young generation, to learn and reflect on the consequences of a war. Even if the fighting happened thousands of miles away, the ripple effects touched every Florida community one way or another, leaving long-term impacts we can still feel eighty years later. As time passes, fewer people will personally remember these soldiers or even say their names, but thanks to our project, we are bringing these men and women back to service and to life.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.