‘Veterans Day Project’ brings students and veterans together Millis High School oral history project started in 2005
By Kaitlyn Richards
Millis High School’s sophomore class held its annual “Veterans Day Project” on Nov. 8.
For the project, veterans visited the high school to be interviewed by the current 10th graders. The veterans recounted many powerful stories from their time in the military, detailed their takeaways from their impressive experiences, and described the most meaningful aspects of serving in the military.
This year, 14 veterans and 65 students participated in the event.
Each veteran was paired with a small group of sophomore students to be interviewed. The students were able to ask questions and take in the stories that were being told. Some told stories from the wars they fought in, while others told stories about their time after leaving the military.
Sophomore Mia Young interviewed Lt. Col. Brett Walker, an Army officer who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and Africa.
“He has had such an interesting life, and I loved learning about it,” said Young. “I was really excited to do this project…It was very impactful to listen to the highs and lows of the veteran that I was paid with,” said Young. “There are so many things that I had heard about in the news, but hearing the stories of someone who experienced it first-hand made it that much more powerful. If this project has taught me anything, it’s that you should listen to the stories of military people.”
After the event, the students wrote essays about their experience. See sidebar for the essay Young wrote about her visit with Lt. Col. Walker.
Lt. Col. Peter Berube, USAF (Retired) Peter Berube of Millis has participated in the event for several years.
“I feel it’s important for society, and especially young people, to understand the sacrifices that generations of Americans have made to secure and preserve our freedoms and way of life,” says Berube, who served in the Air Force from 1994 to 2014 in several states and countries. He was also deployed to Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern countries in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn.
Berube said that, during the event, students asked several questions “ranging from what my motivation was to join the military, to what the stresses of service were, to what the food was like, and places I served. I think because the students had so many questions over the course of an hour, and because we don’t have very much exposure to large military communities in New England, that some of my responses were eye-opening to them.
“Over the years that I’ve participated, I always came away with an impression that the students have an appreciation and respect for Veterans and their service. Often when people learn someone is a Vet, they thank us for our service. Having an entire class of sophomores be attentive and interested in our experience is even more special,” Berube said.
MHS history teacher Dave Fallon started the annual event in 2005 as an oral history project to connect students with WWII veterans. It now includes veterans from a wide range of conflicts including the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom.
“I think this project serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by our veterans, offering students a unique opportunity to connect with living history,” said Fallon. “As these 10th graders sit down with veterans, they listen intently to their stories, gaining insight into the experiences and challenges these heroes faced during their service. It’s a powerful way for the students to learn about the realities of war, honor the sacrifices made, and express their gratitude to those who have served.”
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