High school students in Bristol got a lesson in the true meaning of Memorial Day. Every year they visit Veterans Memorial Park along Memorial Boulevard for a personal lesson about the sacrifice of war.
“Every time I come on this Boulevard, I think of all those fellows who paid the price,” said World War II veteran Robert “Dick” Fitz.
Memorial Boulevard is lined with monuments to all the major conflicts in US history, and the men and women who died in them. Local high school students visit every year to hear about each war. For the more recent, they hear from veterans who fought in those wars, like the 94-year-old Fitz.
“We were an armed guard unit, Navy,” Fitz said. “We were on supply ships all over the world.”
Several Korean War veterans made sure students remember the “forgotten war”.
“And just run over a little bit of history about it,” said former infantryman Richard Avery. “When it started, why it started and how the United Nations got in on it.”
Plus, talk about the amazing sacrifices war requires.
“Wounded 3 times, missing in action once,” remembered Korean War vet Omer Deabay. “Fortunately I came home and back to my wife and one kid that I had left behind.”
“I got wounded on December 29th,” said former machine gunner Robert Sherman. “Twenty-five degrees below zero. I got 11 hunks of shrapnel in the stomach.”
But they got to come home. So many didn’t. Students understand the importance of this place and what it stands for.
“The freedom that we have today to be able to walk on the streets,” said Bristol Eastern High School sophomore Drew Fries. “Appreciate that you can have your own opinions in this country that you feel and not be in jail for it.”
“It’s amazing hearing their stories and I respect them so much for what they did for us,” said Bristol East Sophomore Allison Yuscnitch. “It’s amazing hearing their stories and I respect them so much for what they did for us.”
She respects them so much that she has already decided she wants to be Marine.
“Since I was in 5th grade, I’ve wanted to serve,” Yuscnitch said. “I’ve looked into it and it’s just something I really want to do.”
Someday she may be telling the story of her service while standing on that sacred ground.
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