Sgt. Michael Mangan once again graciously donated his time to share his military experiences with our students. Capturing their attention with his description and photos of camel spiders in Iraq, he offered both a Middle East geography lesson and a life lesson in finding the beauty in barren landscapes.
After passing around his helmets and MRE food pack, Sgt. Mangan explained that Iraqi children excel in soccer and often played with the troops; he stressed the importance of establishing positive rapport and making a positive impression through soccer, buying from the locals, and respecting the faith of others, so Iraqi children will grow up considering the US a friend. Students came to understand, in the words of Mrs. Pero, Guidance Administrative Assistant, “that ‘the bad guys’ weren’t the countries or citizens, but that US soldiers followed ‘the bad guys’ wherever they went.
A major message to students was that the US is fighting insurgents, not the country or the people of Iraq or Afghanistan. Sgt. Magnon shared with students the difficulty soldiers face readjusting upon returning home, saying, “It takes time.”
Marine Will Mingione, father of seventh grade student Phillip Mingione, also graciously donated his time this year to share his experiences in Okinawa, Japan in the 1990s. While kids loved his stories about boot camp and banana spiders, one of his most poignant points was the fact that the military is a “band of brothers” that teaches its men and women to always have each others backs and to always be ready for any challenge. In fact Mingione credits his training in the military for his ability to run his own successful business and is grateful for having had the opportunity to serve his country.
In addition to hearing from two servicemen, students on both teams participated in additional activities to commemorate Veterans Day. In support of active duty troops, Team Y students created mosaics for and wrote letters to soldiers serving overseas. Team X students decorated stars with names of family members or friends that are veterans and created acrostic poems about veterans and their service. Both teams learned the history of the Veteran’s Day holiday as it relates to Armistice Day.
Seventh grade students will continue to pay tribute to veterans by participating in their annual “Stockings for Soldiers” fundraiser to send care packages to wounded veterans in stateside hospitals over the next month. Because of amazing Veteran presentations in both the seventh and eighth grades, all students and staff are participating in this fundraiser in order to help those that willingly put their lives at risk for our freedom on a daily basis.
Our presenters were roles models for our students in both the information they shared and in “the respect they showed for each other and the positive and honorable way they presented.” Indeed, we are grateful!