'Lest we forget'
Many veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Cold War walk among us, but not all are willing to share their stories. It's a shame because their firsthand accounts need to be told again and again - "lest we forget."
Inquisitive eight grade Social Studies students in teacher Mike Bartlow's classes in the Owego Apalachin Middle School offer two options to veterans willing to talk about their experiences.
You can go one-on-one with a student in a non-classroom environment or you can wait until more comrades volunteer and all spend time in the classroom telling students individual service stories. Either way you represent living history and your recalls need to be told before it's too late.
Two veterans are the first to volunteer. On the veterans in the classroom roster are the names of retired Navy Chief Helen Williams of Candor and World War II veteran Al Elkin of Owego. Many more veterans need to volunteer to make the "In Harm's Way - History 8 Project" a success.
Who fought in the World War Two Battle of the Bulge? Sixty-eight years ago on Dec. 16, 1944, it was the largest land battle U.S. troops have ever fought. Who were killed in action? Who are veterans of The Red Ball Express, the gigantic truck convoy system that supplied the front?
Who are veterans of "Frozen Chosen Reservoir," the Korean War's most famous battle 62 years ago on Dec. 11, 1950. Who from Tioga County made the supreme sacrifice in the brutal 17-day battle in freezing weather in South Hamgyong Province, North Korea?
Were you among the troops who captured Buna, New Guinea, in 1943? Were you there for the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944? Were you in the Atlantic during the Germany U-boat offensive? Did you survive the Anzio, Italy, landing in 1944?
Were you among the first U.S. troops to arrive in Britain in 1942? Did you participate in the first "all U.S." bombing raid over Germany in 1943? Were you among the U.S. troops who landed on Kwajalein in 1944?
Who's the oldest living veteran in Owego and Tioga County? Who's the oldest living member of Tioga County's VFW and American Legion Posts and their Ladies, Men's and Son's Auxiliaries?
"It was such an honor to be able to place a wreath upon the grave of a brave veteran. It was an emotional time of remembrance to those who have served and sacrificed much to ensure our freedom. Let us remember where our freedom to do so comes from."
In a cemetery environment, a grateful family taught their children the importance of character - sacrifices by our veterans fighting to protect our freedoms and the loved ones they leave behind.
Mission of Wreaths Across America is to remember, honor and teach. It was carried out thanks to all who laid wreaths on veteran headstones in Tioga and Bradford County cemeteries and placed wreaths at cemetery main entrances.
Contact Glenn A. Warner Post 1371, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Memorial Chairman Jim Raftis at (607) 687-4229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.