A look through our veterans’ eyes: A living history event

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A living history event took place at Irondequoit High School where students got the chance to speak to veterans of different eras.

Thirty-six veterans sat down with 85 students to talk to them about their experiences in the military.

From Operation Iraqi Freedom to the Vietnam War, from volunteering their time to being drafted, every branch came to share their history with a new generation.

“Oh it’s a beautiful thing,” says Army veteran Bing C. Reaves. “I enjoyed it probably more than they did because I got to tell some of my life history, my life story.”

Social Studies teacher Amanda Janas-Tramonto coordinated this event after seeing something similar on the news a few years ago.

“And we wanted to call this a living history event because we want the kids to put a face on history,” says Janas-Tramonto. “These veterans created and lived the history that we teach these kids in their social studies classes and we wanted them to be able to see the layers of history and see how these stories work in the bigger picture that we talk about in the classroom.”

This face to face connection allowed students to hear their personal stories and understand the emotional toll their service better than any history book.

“It actually meant a lot it was like really nice and made me really happy to talk to all of them,” says Sophomore Sedona Bell. “I got to learn all their stories and it was really eye opening and it really gave you a piece of their world and you got to learn so much and how everybody’s experiences were different.”

A part of that learning was listening to the experience of Vietnam veterans and what they had to go through when coming back from the war.

“I think that it’s nice that finally, after 50-some years, Vietnam veterans are finally being recognized for the good things that they’ve done. In the past we were sort of hidden, a second child type thing that nobody talked about because the Vietnam war was very controversial,” says Vietnam veteran Patrick Hoover.

There are plans to continue this event as long as possible and expand it to more schools.

“I think it was very beneficial to the kids, I think it was beneficial to the veterans and I think it should be expanded through other schools. I would, I would definitely come back,” says Hoover.

The event actually fell on National Vietnam War Veterans’ day, which was a total coincidence.