War veterans speak to Kinnikinnick, Boylan students about military service

Local News

(WTVO) — While many students did not have school on Veteran’s Day, a handful were still in session and they used the time to learn about our veterans.

“A veteran is someone who served our country with honor and dignity,” said Kinnikinnick School student Isaiah Martinez, who’s in the 4th grade.

Isaiah and his fellow students read a poem about veterans in class Monday.

“It’s very emotional. It really is. It’s very emotional,” said Michael Terrell, who spoke to the class about his time in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

“It was always wonderful to address children. It’s amazing to see how loyal they are to people who served in our military,” he said. “It wasn’t really like that very much in the ’70’s. It was a pretty tough time for veterans coming home from Vietnam. It’s nice to see some loyalty and patriotism in these children.”

Filmmaker Larry Cappetto visited students at Boylan High School, to tell them about the 15 years he spend interviewing hundreds of veterans as a way, he says, to timestamp history.

“When a veteran dies, their story goes with them,” Cappetto said. “So, I made it my mission, and it’s an urgent mission of mine, to document these stories before they die, because what they have to share with us is valuable. As we go forward, hopefully we can learn from the mistakes of the past.”

Boylan social science teacher Brett McAllister says it’s one thing for students to read about wars, but to have a veteran in class functions almost as a walking history lesson.

“I think the difficult part, as teachers, is you try to give the most amount of information on the things you’re presenting in history, but we didn’t live it or experience it, so to have that aspect in front of the kids is very special,” said McAllister.

McAllister’s documentary, “Lest They Are Forgotten,” will screen Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Boylan gymnasium, at 4000 St Francis Drive, in Rockford.

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