Children honor Vets in Skaneateles

Lil' State Streeters honor Vets

More than half a century after he returned home from war, Edwin Bettis stood before a room full of students and teachers and talked about his experiences.

"It's the first time I've had that privilege," said Bettis, who served in both WWII and the Korean War but has rarely spoken of it in public.

He said it was an honor to join six other veterans at State Street School in Skaneateles in recognition of Veterans Day on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Before hearing the veterans talk in smaller groups, the entire fourth grade honored them with two songs: "Those Who Serve" and "Grand Old Flag." Principal Stephen Widrick noted "there weren't many dry eyes in the place."

Being recognized was "quite an honor," said Bettis, but it was difficult, too. "There's a lot you just don't want to discuss."

He spoke of sleeping in fox holes in the cold ground while in Korea, and about being hit with a Napalm bomb. "I am a very very lucky person only the good Lord brought me out alive," he said. Bettis also said he is the grandfather of fifth grader Sepp Martin.

Teacher Irene Manna approached him afterwards, telling him how grateful she was that he had survived to give life to "a generation of wonderful people like the Martins, who produced Sepp Martin, an exceptional young man." Sepp was her student last year.

Widrick said the school wants to do more to "reach out to people who have done so much for us," like the veterans.

When introducing the veterans at the school-wide assembly, Widrick told the students (all wearing red, white and blue) that the special program was developed because "we want you to understand why you have Friday -- Veterans Day -- off from school.

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