Schenevus Introduces Young To Vets’ Sacrifice
By LIBBY CUDMORE • allotsego.com
Edition of Thursday-Friday, Nov. 13-14, 2014
For Jay Palmer, Westford, Schenevus Central School’s annual Veterans Day breakfast isn’t just a meal – it’s a chance to remind the next generations about the price of freedom. “I come to show these young kids that a lot people gave their lives for the country they live in today,” he said. “Freedom isn’t free.”
Palmer, who was stationed at a U.S. naval base in Japan in 1958-67, was one of 45 veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan who attended the 14th annual breakfast Monday, Nov. 10. “This school has a long-standing history of hosting veterans for this breakfast,” said Jake Palmateer, ONC BOCES public relations specialist.
The 12th grade government class started the breakfast in 2000, but this year, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. escalation in Vietnam War, fourth-grade teachers Shannon Weir and Kathleen Walke wanted their pupils to deepen their understanding of soldiers’ sacrifice. “We talked about why we appreciate them and why we have tomorrow off,” said Weir. “They fought so that we could have the rights to the education they’re receiving.”
The fourth graders helped serve breakfast, sat with the veterans and put pins in the “Where Have You Been?” map to show where veterans were stationed around the world.
In addition, 420 students from pre-K to fourth grade replicated the Vietnam Memorial in the cafeteria, but instead of names of the deceased, they decorated the walls with pictures, poems and letters of thanks the veterans for their service. “We’re not in D.C. to see The Wall, so we created our own,” said Weir. “We want them to have that personal connection.”
The a cappella choir performed the National Anthem, and the high school band entertained diners with Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll” and “The Patriotic Spectacle.” And before the speakers began, the entire fourth grade lined up to read Cheryl Dyson’s poem, “Veteran’s Day.”
First Sgt. George Ost, a National Guardsman who served in Iraq, was the guest speaker, with his daughter, senior Danielle Ost, reading a poem to introduce him. “When I think of veterans, I think of Vietnam vets,” he said. “We appreciate our vets today, but we also need to think about our past.”
In addition, the Iroquois chapter of the DAR presented each veteran with a star cut from retired American flags, part of the national Stars For Our Troops program. “I met a woman who had worn hers in her helmet when she fought in Iraq,” said Roxanne Murray. “It inspired us to start giving them out last year.”
Since then, over 200 have been given to soldiers in Otsego County, and many have been sent to troops overseas.
“Seeing these soldiers shows them what it takes to be a good citizen,” said Weir. “It’s about being respectful, responsible and making sacrifices.”
“Our kids look up to you,” said Supt. of Schools Thomas Jennings told the vets. “And you’re the best example they have.”