By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
All Saints Catholic School Principal Jeanne Von Feldt said she has never worn a military uniform, been to war, or wounded or scared in battle. Pointing her head toward veterans in the audience at the Davenport school’s Veterans Day assembly Nov. 10, she said, “Today, I’m simply a grateful American.”
Teachers and students throughout the diocese honored veterans Nov. 10 and 11 with school assemblies designed to offer students the opportunity to learn from service men and women.
Robert Gushanas, a Korean War veteran, attended the All Saints events with fellow members of the Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 168. During the assembly, the veterans smiled as students sang, played musical instruments and recited essays of gratitude. He and other veterans and active service men and women stood tall when students sang the Armed Forces Melody. “We appreciate this,” Gushanas said, both of the assembly and the opportunity to speak to classes earlier in the day.
In one of the assembly essays, eighth-grader Cathy Le, a Vietnamese-American, thanked the Vietnam War veterans in attendance for what they did for her family. “If vets hadn’t been there I wouldn’t even be here. … May God bless you and be with you,” she said.
At Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School in West Point on Nov. 11, students recited famous speeches, offered a special tribute to World War II Marine veteran Bernard Lohman, and witnessed a 21-gun salute. Shelley Sheerin, admissions director for Holy Trinity Catholic Schools, said “perhaps the best part of all was the elementary students’ song with a salute to the veterans.”
Students at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport listened to Col. James W. Baker, deputy chief of staff for Intelligence for Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island Arsenal, give a presentation on war facts at the school’s assembly Nov. 11. As the husband of kindergarten teacher Diane Baker, he also urged the audience to remember the families of veterans for the sacrifices they have made.
He also explained the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day honors those who have died in service while Veterans Day celebrates the “1 percent of Americans” who served and continue to serve. “No other job asks employees to risk their lives (like this). It is selfless service,” he said, adding that his Christian faith has been a source of comfort and protection in his 26 years of service.
Additionally, veterans in the audience had an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a message with the students and faculty. Air Force veteran Randy Jacoby, whose granddaughter attends St. Paul, applauded the school for allowing a colonel to speak about God during an assembly. He also offered encouragement to youths considering a military career. “I’m proud of my years in the Air Force. I’m prouder of that than anything I’ve ever done.”