Albeit a day early, Denair Middle School students invited United States military veterans to their campus to honor them for Veterans Day. With poetry and official recognition, students carried out the primary purpose of the special day by highlighting the importance of America’s veterans and their willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.
“This generation does not know of time when they haven’t been secure in their freedom,” said seventh and eighth grade history teacher Gina Michael. “It is important for them to see someone who has.”
World War II veterans Tony Inzana and Ralph Rush were both invited to be guest speakers at Monday’s event. Inzana was enlisted as part of the 99th Infantry Division in 1942. He left active duty in 1951, but stayed in reserves until 1959.
Rush was part of the 89th Infantry Division during World War II. His unit was recognized for liberating the first Nazi concentration camp, Ohrdruf, in Germany in 1945. The courageous actions of U.S. troops at Ohrdruf were what first alerted the American public to the atrocities carried out by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
“This wonderful country we live in is worth fighting for,” Rush said to students on Monday. “Don’t forget our causes.”
Prior to the event, eighth graders at DMS were instructed to find a U.S. veteran and interview them. As part of their reports, the students were prompted to reflect on the assignment and how it affected them.
“Veterans, as well as students, walk away changed,” said eighth grade English teacher Colleen Vickery. “It is therapeutic for veterans to talk about what they did and kids walk away knowing something they originally didn’t know about their family member who served in the military.”