Students, veterans connect ahead of Veterans Day
SUSSEX CO., Del. – It was an emotional day for students and veterans on Friday as the two groups came together just a few days before Veterans Day.
“We should take a special time out, of our school days to honor them and thank them for their service,” Sussex Technical Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said.
That’s what Friday was all about for those students: honoring and thanking. For the veterans. it was all about representing their branches alongside their family.
“I was supposed to come last year but I was deployed, so I decided that I needed to come here and support my daughter and what she does,” Sgt. Robert Kelley, a U.S. Air Force Reservist, said.
“I’m here with my granddaughter, she’s a schoolteacher here,” Roger Aubrey, a World War II veteran, said.
Ask any of those veterans, and they’ll tell you their war stories, the horrors that they’ve seen. They’ll tell you details about their time overseas, their journeys from decades ago. For some, even the exact day they enlisted sticks in their brain.
“The 12th of April, 1943,” Aubrey said.
These veterans are open, they’ll tell you exactly what war is to them.
“You’ve probably heard the saying, war is hell, and it certainly is, there’s nothing pretty about it,” Thomas McLaughlin, a Vietnam War veteran, said.
But they’ll also tell you they made it through. They survived, even when they thought they couldn’t.
“You had to lock it away, you had to focus on the future, not what you just experienced,” McLaughlin said.
“We knew what it takes to survive, and that is hope, you always have to have hope,” Aubrey added.
For them, days like Friday, surrounded by fellow veterans and dozens of students, are therapeutic.
“One of the healing process is, is to talk about it, is to get it out,” McLaughlin said.
So ahead of Veterans Day, these Veterans have one message to students everywhere:
“Freedom is not free, we pay for it every day and the people that pay, or wearing the uniform of the United States of America, and they wear it proudly,” McLaughlin said.
Several of those veterans also tell 47 ABC that they hope students consider jobs in the military after they graduate high school.
School leaders say they hosted the event on Friday because school is closed on Veterans Day, which is celebrated on Monday.