By Mary Schubert Hollopeter
Learning has climbed beyond the curve for me since I began visiting with veterans and asked questions about their service.
I also take note each year how schools in this area are investing in their students by teaching appreciation for veterans. That investment will last a lifetime.
Student involvement is a sure way to learn. I am sure the staff of North Platte’s schools and Kids Klub, as well as the Bassett grade school near my home, acts on that philosophy.
Veterans Day programs often reflect “learning by doing” with original speeches, poems and tributes. And whose heart has not been lifted by the sweet singing and the heart-thumping band music that focuses on America?
All students are involved and have become friends to veterans through various activities.
In my part of Nebraska, a Rock County graduate, Ronda Blake Davis, has a vested interest in veterans. Her grandfather, Ed Blake served in World War I and her uncle Wallace Blake was killed in World War II.
And, that’s not all.
Her father, Archie Blake served from 1957-59 and 1961-62. Her brother Dean Blake served in the late 1980s.
The family’s patriotic example, as well as teachers along the way, molded appreciation for veterans.
Now Ronda Davis is passing it on to her students.
As an Ainsworth Middle School teacher, Ronda began an “Adopt-a-Veteran” project in her eighth grade history class several years ago. A half-dozen veterans share their military experiences with the class. The students gets to know him or her through various activities.
Then, at the Veterans Day program, a student introduces “their veteran” and reads the story they have written.
The veteran and student sit together and gifts are given in appreciation. But I am sure that is not the end of the friendship.
It is unlikely either will forget each other and certainly, the young person knows how indebted we are for the service of all veterans.
Ronda heads up the Veterans Day program.
This year, the theme was remembering MIA and POW soldiers. She asked me to speak in tribute to Cpl. Richard J. Seadore, whose remains were identified on April 25.
It was an honor to write a story concerning Richard’s final journey home to burial near Long Pine and now, I was given the privilege to speak of it.
Sometimes in a crowd that size, with students of all ages, there are background noises and some coming and going. But as I began to speak, I noticed a silence fell in the auditorium. Each person was respectfully listening to a true story of a true hero.
As I completed my tribute and the final photograph was shown on the wall, the audience stood. I knew that it was not in appreciation of my talk, but rather, in respect for a fallen hero, Cpl. Seadore.
I truly believe that we are privileged in rural America to have the legacy of patriotism. Let us guard it with a passion.
Mary Schubert Hollopeter writes from her home near Wood Lake in northern Nebraska.