Students at Jefferson Middle School were given the opportunity to learn history from some of those who lived it.
On Friday, a group students at Jefferson had an early Veterans Day celebration by spending time with veterans. The event was hosted as part of Jefferson's annual Veterans Day Luncheon which, according to teacher Gina Hess, has been observed by the school for several years.
"I think this is about the 15th time that we've done it," said Hess. "We invite all the veteran community organizations from around here to come and we have a student sit with a veteran during lunch. Then we put on a little program for them. After lunch we let the veterans introduce themselves, tell us what branch of the military they're from and tell us what kind of major connections they have or anything they want to share with the students."
Area veterans shared lunch and stories with a group of students at Jefferson Middle School.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
The event began with a reading by students and teachers of the Presidential Proclamation for Veterans Day 2012. The students then gave a brief history on Veterans Day, including facts such as: it originated in 1919 as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I the previous year, it was originally intended to honor World War I veterans, and it became known as Veterans Day in 1954.
The program continued with a student reading of poems including Courtney Tanabe's "Because of You, Unknown Soldier" and Joanna Fuchs' "They Did Their Share." This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a brief prayer before breaking for lunch.
Afterward, each veteran in attendance introduced himself, his military branch, length of service and his duties while enlisted to a round of applause from the attendees. The event ended with a question-and-answer session in which the veterans spoke from personal experience on topics such as: the training they received, the draft process, the food they ate, the weapons they used, medals and ribbons and the lifelong friendships that were forged during their time in the service.
According to Buzz Montagna, retired veteran of the U.S. Navy, the program is a way for students to understand more about veterans and what they fought for.
"What better way to learn history," said Montagna, who served during Vietnam and Desert Storm. "The kids get to share some time with veterans, get to talk to us and hear our stories, and learn to appreciate our country the way veterans do. It's a great learning experience for them and for us."