"The Japanese have surrendered. You are on your way to New York Harbor."
"For a while, it was deathly silent," recalled John Meohle, one of six World War II veterans who spoke to Iroquois students last month as part of its annual "Greatest Generation" event. The veterans recalled some of the poignant moments of their service to our nation and related what their time at war has meant to their lives, then and now.
This was the 18th year that social studies teacher Dennis Frank and his students have invited the World War II veterans to the school. The event both pays tributes to the veterans and provides students an opportunity to learn from ther experiences living history - and shaping it, too. The visits coincide with the study of World War II.
The veterans talked about their experiences at war, which included fighting their way across Europe, flying bombardier missions over land and sea, serving supply depots in the South Pacific, and more. They talked about leaving their families and they talked about coming home. They talked about the difficulty of life at war, and then about how much it has been a part of their lives in the decades since.
"It's something I'll never forget," said Mchael Norelli, a Navy Seabee who served in Guam, the Philippines, and Saipan. "The freinds I made in the military are friends I had for a lifetime."
Following remarks from each veteran, students ask questions. After the assembly concluded, more than 40 students stayed after to visit with them. Also at the event, the award-winning Iroqouis 7th/8th grade choir will performed "Song for the Unsung Hero" for the veterans.
The annual "Greatest Generation" event means a lot to the students and staff, as well as the honored guests.
"When we leave here today, we will look forward to next year," Moehle said to students.