Four gentlemen from the Maricopa chapter of the VFW Post 12043 visited Desert Wind Middle School in Shannon Hull’s and Jennifer Szoltysik’s classrooms on May 10.
Army veteran Mike Kemery, Navy veteran Clarence ‘Golde’ Golden, Navy vet Charlie Kemp and Army vet Richard Hall spent two hours with the students telling about their time serving during the Vietnam War, their personal stories, a bit of history and how they are doing today.
The students asked a lot of questions, mostly concerning their personal lives and how they were treated in Vietnam as well as when they got home.
“My students care the most about the treatment of these brave men upon their arrival back in the states, Blended Learning instructor Shannon Hull said. “My kids can’t comprehend how they could be treated any way other than with love and respect…this solidifies for my students how important it is to honor our armed forces, the flag and the country as a whole.”
When asked any final thoughts, Golden reiterated to the students, “You wouldn’t have the freedoms today without the men and women who fought it.” And Hall ended with this thought: “Cherish what you have right here in this classroom; it is a privilege that you all (students) get this type of education. Many children around the world have nothing.”
The eighth-grade students have had other visitors sharing their experiences with war. Air Force vet Steve Hull talked about his time serving during the Cold War, guarding the Titan Missile and the SR-71.
Response from DWMS students Erin and Brian P.: “It is important that we learned about the history, and listening to them talking about it is a good way to learn about it. Not just reading from books, but getting behind the scenes and knowing what actually happened is important for us. They kind of gave us their perspective of war, not someone telling us when they weren’t really there. They told us what they saw and heard because they went through it and know it…it’s not like the stuff we find on the Internet.”
This is the third year members of the Maricopa VFW have visited Hull’s classroom, and the students are invested in these men, asking about them throughout the school year wondering when they will come back for another talk.
“I am grateful that these guys take time out of their day to visit with my students, and I am most grateful that my students care so much about them and their stories,” Hull said. “The respect and love that my students show to these men makes me a very proud teacher.”