WWII vets visit Skaneateles middle schoolers

Then everyone headed to the auditorium for a moving summary about each speaker and a keynote speech by Joe Owen, veteran of WWII and the Korean War.

Like the other speakers, Owen seemed to be looking back and looking forward all at once. He is the author of Colder Than Hell: A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir.

On the one hand, he could see the faces of the friends who died for their country more than 60 years ago and he could feel the dedication and bravery of the men who "fought for freedom and for what is right and what is just." But just as clearly, he could see into the future that will be owned by today's students.

"I am so proud when I look you. I think 'where will these young people take us?' I know you will take us in a direction that makes this country even better," he said.

Middle School Media Specialist Sharon O'Connell said she hopes that "the veterans' stories will live on in the minds of the students" including those "who work with their stories on the DVD's we made for the American Memory section of the Library of Congress." She said assignments to create trailers/movies "seem to really help the kids think about the veterans' stories."

She said she thought the interaction between students and veterans was very comfortable this year. "I think the kids, having watched the Library of Congress American Memory videos we made of their veteran and re-enacting part of their story, felt bonded to their veteran in a small way."

Ryan, the eighth grade teacher who has helped create the event, said it is "a tremendous experience for our students. It really helps them understand the sacrifices that these men were willing to make for their country. Meeting these men really brings to light the events of the Second World War."

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