War experiences bridge the age gap

Published 7:19 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ten veterans sat at various tables in the Picayune Memorial High School library, taking the time to answer questions from high school history students on Monday.

“I want to find out about the after effects of the war,” said Heather Hall, an eleventh grade student. “How they made it through.”

“We studied it, but I want to find out more,” Martha Lovell said.

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The informal discussion developed from the funeral procession of Sgt. Carl Siegert on Feb. 23. The students were lined up along Goodyear Blvd. to honor the fallen soldier.

“Five gentlemen from the VFW were standing close to us,” said Allison Wheat, who teaches American History. “One young lady asked if she could go talk to them and I said sure. After she walked over there, she just shook one gentleman’s hand, then hugged his neck. She said, ‘Thank you.’” Wheat smiled, though her eyes teared up slightly.

“How did that make you feel?” the gentleman was asked.

“He said, ‘Better than in a long time,’” Wheat said.

The idea to get the students and the veterans together grew into a solid plan since that day.

“One young man has signed up for basic training,” Wheat continued. “This has upset him a bit because he knows that he’ll be in Iraq in a few months. He’s come to realize he’s not immortal. Many children think they are immortal.

“This has taught them respect, too. One young man would not say the pledge of allegiance all semester long, but today he stood up and said it with all of us. This has given them a sense of patriotism.”