PARKERSBURG - A group of local veterans representing service in the American military since World War II spoke to students at Parkersburg High School Monday morning.
"Take a Veteran to School Day" at PHS was part of a national program with the History Channel and locally by Suddenlink. The program brought four local veterans to the school to discuss their experiences.
About a thousand juniors, seniors and members of the Navy National Defense Cadet Corps attended, Principal Pam Goots said. Students asked about a dozen questions.
Veterans speak at “Take a Veteran to School Day” at Parkersburg High School.
Raymond Smith of Parkersburg served in World War II. Marvin Nicholas of Ravenswood served in Korea. Ted Copeland of Elizabeth served in Vietnam. Troy Wood of Point Pleasant served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
All four veterans expressed pride of their service, but they also took pains to point out the horrors of war and adjustment to post-war life.
"I was proud to serve," Nicholas said. "If I was younger, I would go back."
Photo by Jody Murphy
Students and veterans listen to the Parkersburg High School Choir during Monday’s “Take a Veteran to School Day” program.
Wood spoke of post-traumatic stress. He told students about his irritability, quick temper and inability to sleep.
"Even now I have a hard time adjusting. I snap at people. I have trouble sleeping. War has lasting scars, lasting effects on you for the rest of your life," he said.
Copeland said he, as a 19-year-old fresh out of high school, saw things he never wants to see again and he has a deeper appreciation of life.
"You want to enjoy life," he said. "Live every minute and question-with deeper understanding- why things happen.
"I can't think of a word to express how sad war is," he said.
Death is the ultimate sacrifice of war and not one anyone wants to make, Copeland said.
"Not one of us sitting here will tell you we wanted to die," he said.
Smith, who enlisted at age 18 in 1943, said he saw himself in many of the students. Smith was shipped to Europe and participated in the Battle of Bulge, operating a 5-inch howitzer.
"We took one assignment after another and took prisoners by the thousands,' he said. "I didn't want to be an undertaker or a guard and I was both."
Goots said the program was worthy of the students' time and it was important for the students to see the military and war as "life-changing."
"It's not like a summer job," she said.
She said it was good for kids to see veterans like Wood, who discovered college wasn't for him, but at age 23 came out of the military as a veteran with training.
Trent Cheuvront was announced as the winner of the essay contest. He won a Kindle for his essay.
Cheuvront wrote about the changing face of veterans. He wrote about the mental image many have of veterans: older men.
Cheuvront interviewed his 26-year-old cousin, who served as a combat engineer in Iraq.
"Sometimes we forget about the younger vets," he wrote. "We need to give veterans respect everyday. Not just on Veterans Day."