Veterans honored

Published 11:18 am Saturday, November 10, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Students at Southside School and Niles High School spent Friday honoring our nations veterans. Signs and banners thanking those who fought for our freedom, the colors red, white and blue could be seen lining the hallways, and delicious food was prepared as the veterans ate lunch with staff and students.
At Southside School, a total of 19 veterans attended the event. Veterans were able to speak about their experiences and the wars they were part of.
"They were from various different wars – World War II, the Gulf, the Korean War, Desert Storm – this was a real treat for everyone here at the school," Southside teacher Marty Oleson said.
Every student was assigned to write an essay on what a military hero meant to him or her. The staff then picked four students' essays – Kyle King, Ashley DeRossi, Chris Blann and Christopher Colotti – that were read aloud. Needless to say, there weren't many dry eyes in the room.
The veterans were then given a folder, which contained essays written by the students.
"We wanted to show the veterans how much they are appreciated. We even made plaques with their names on them," Oleson said.
Students also made banners that hung inside the gymnasium, where the event was held.
Sayings on some of them included "Thank You Veterans" and "Our Nation is No. 1." The entire student body also said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang "God Bless the U.S.A."
Staff members prepared the food, which included lasagna and desserts, and the students helped set up chairs and tables.
"I have never been so proud of our students. Everything came together beautifully. This was our first year for this and we cannot believe how well it turned out. I'm hoping we can do something like this every year," Oleson said.
At Niles High School, students were able to hear stories from the veterans about their experiences in the wars and with the services.
Charles Waldron and his son, Mike, were two of the guest speakers who spoke in Susan Rinehart's World English class and Celeste Anthony's business class.
Charles, who came dressed in his World War II uniform, was in the Navy and the Marines. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942, right out of high school. When he was just 20-years-old, he entered World War II. He was called for the Korean War, but stayed state side.
"I've had a good life," Charles said. When asked if he had any problems after the war, Charles said he was one of the lucky ones.
"Most guys have health problems, mental problems. They can't even talk about their time in the war. I got lucky. I adjusted to life and went on as usual. But the war was something people didn't really talk about back then, so things were kept quiet and you had no choice but to move on," Charles said.
Mike was never in combat, but served the United States Army for 24 years.
"There was a time when I wanted to get out. I think it was because I was in Texas and the weather was over 100 degrees every day. But after that I really started to enjoy what I did. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't have stayed 24 years," Mike told the students.
Charles' enlistment ended in 1952 and Mike retired in 1993.
Other veterans made appearances at the high school and were even treated to lunch by Mrs. Anthony's class.
"This is good because it's a time for us to learn about what these men and women went through and are going through. I have respect for ever person who has ever served our country," high school student Ryan Brown said.
Students at Niles were given red ribbons in honor of family members who served or are currently serving in the military.
NHS staff, including Jim Rudnicki, Leon Heimberger, Steve Karsten, Denise Grice and Lew Carrington, were also recognized for serving the country. They were given flowers to wear for the day.