Indiana, PA - Indiana County

WEST SHAMOKIN: Program honors veterans

by MAKAYLA MURRAY and JENNA COCHRAN on November 16, 2012 11:00 AM

RURAL VALLEY -- On Friday, Nov. 9, West Shamokin High School honored the United States veterans in their area.

Numerous servicemen and -women came to the school and shared their experiences with students and staff alike. Each veteran had their own classroom full of students and gave two presentations. When the presentations were over, everyone in the building gathered in the auditorium where the heroes of our nation were given the recognition they deserved with performances from the band and the chorus, individual recognition of each service person who was in attendance, as well as the announcement of family members of students and staff who are currently serving. The day was a huge success.

When asked what Veterans Day meant to him, Assistant Principal Joe Treglia said, "To me it is about honoring our veterans, past and present, for serving our country."

This is a day that means a lot to several of the faculty members at West Shamokin.

"My mother and father are both veterans of Vietnam. That is how they actually met. So in a way if they hadn't been a part of the war, I wouldn't be here," said Kim Swank of the English department.

For Shawn Smith, a student history teacher, it is personal because he has at least four close friends in Afghanistan right now.

Mandy Blake, science teacher and student council adviser, takes on the task of planning this event each year. She has been doing it for the last four years. She starts brainstorming ideas for the program a year in advance, but the actual work for the program begins in September and includes lunch preparation such as ordering food and sending out requests and notices for veterans to participate. The band, chorus and TV production class are asked to plan their part in the program.

Senior high student council and the advisers, the family consumer science teachers, former secretary Mary Koma, and, of course, the veterans themselves all offer up ideas for next year's program. When asked why it is so important to her personally, she stated that she feels a need to recognize the importance of our servicemen and -women because she has a daughter-in-law enlisted and other friends and family members that have been directly impacted by the importance of enlisting.

Some of the veterans told about the things that inspired them to join the service, what they liked the most about it, how it changed them, etc.

Bruce Bly joined the United States Navy because he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. He said, "It was an experience that changed me for the better, and it satisfied my sense of patriotic duty."

Gerald A. Duncan of the United States Navy said that he loved the fact that the service was not the kind of experience that you can buy, but he disliked being away from home for so long.

Betty Calhoun was recruited to be a nurse during Vietnam wartime. She always feared for the men going out to battle, but she said that as a whole, it was an experience like no other.

The veterans were grateful for the event, and the students and staff, along with the rest of America, are grateful for them.

We celebrate our veterans for the unfathomable sacrifice they all have made. We thank those who are alive, and remember those we have lost. The things they have suffered through have made our lives better. We thank them for everything they have done and we are forever grateful to them.

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