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Date of Issue: November 11, 2009

Learning about America

Each year Americans observe Veterans Day Nov. 11. Students and many adults across the nation receive a day off of school or work, but do they understand what Veterans Day is about?

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Learning about America
Larry Fowler of the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard explains to Anna Maria Elementary students the many flags that have been apart of America’s formation.

On Nov. 6, fifth-graders from Anna Maria Elementary School got to know some of America’s military veterans.

Fifth-graders walked into the auditorium as patriotic music filled the room. Larry Fowler of the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard welcomed them.

“Why do we have Veterans Day?” Fowler asked.

As soon as he asked, about half of the students’ hands went up. The first student to speak answered the question correctly: “Because they gave their lives for our country.”

Fowler continued with the program, teaching students about the flags America has used through its history.

“We use the flags to teach students how America grew. We want them to know it just wasn’t all of a sudden. By seeing the flags, students see first-hand the sacrifices soldiers gave for their country,” he said.

After Fowler’s program students met one-on-one with three veterans from different branches of the military.

Jim Dunne represented the Navy.

“Who wants to see the world?” asked Dunne. Students gathered around him to him recount his naval tales. Dunne served aboard the U.S.S. Sullivans from 1952-1955. He started out serving as a naval ensign and retired from the reserves 33 years later as an O-6 or four-star captain.

Dunne sailed around the world and anchored his naval boat in the Hudson River.

As students listened, they thought of many questions.

“We learned early on to appreciated and have fear of the ocean…. I also carried soda crackers in my pocket just in case,” Dunne said.

Representing the Army was Richard Herman. “I signed up voluntarily 68 years ago. I went into the Army during a time of peace and then, 11 months later, Pearl Harbor was attacked,” Herman said.

Students paid attention as Herman told stories of serving for five and a half years in the 3rd Army under U.S. Gen. George S. Patton. While serving in the European theater, Herman was sent to France, Belgium and Germany.

The last branch of the military students learned about was the U.S. Marines. Students listened to Ralph Bassett. “At the end of 1945, the military needed Marines to join. I joined at the end of WWII. I was only 17. After the war, I went to college. While I was there I got a notice, and I was told to report to Korea,” Bassett said.

“Students nowadays don’t know why or what we have here in America. Many don’t realize that their freedom didn’t come free. This generation was born free and always had everything. By learning from veterans they gain appreciation for our country and see what past generations had to give up to defend our country,” Fowler said.