Veterans Share Their Experiences During Classes to Celebrate Veterans Day


Ava Schleif

Veterans share their stories with students during Block 2 on Thursday, Nov. 10 to celebrate Veterans Day.

Journalism Students, Block 2AC

In honor of Veterans Day 2022, passionate veterans and descendants were invited to Shenendehowa to share their experiences in the military with students spanning across multiple wars and many different areas of service.

According to Assistant Principal Jackie Michalski, who helped organize the event, the idea to bring veterans into classrooms came from Bob Pressley, a Board of Education member and veteran.

“We all know that these Veterans are getting older and older and we want to take any opportunity we have to listen to their stories,” Michalski said.

Veterans said they wanted to share their stories for various reasons including the desire to have stories carry on as veterans pass away and to impart in students the need to protect their country.

Veterans shared their stories about how the military changed them as people, taught them discipline, teamwork, and other skills and allowed them to attend college.

“We all grew up appreciating the military and service, but it was about money and getting into college,” said Tony Morelli who served in the Navy and received an ROTC scholarship.

“I grew up thinking I was never going to be able to go to college, because my family couldn’t afford it,” said  John Kern, who served in the Navy in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. His presentation discussed physics and submarines.

Some veterans said that joining the military allowed them to feel a sense of accomplishment and was one of the best decisions they made.

“Joining the navy was the best decision of my life,” said Craig Branchfield, who served in the Navy in the early 1990s.

”It was a big experience, I wouldn’t run away from it and I would do it again if I had too,” said Dave Brinkmoeller, who served in the army during Vietnam.

Along with veterans, the descendants of veterans gave presentations to students about their fathers and grandfathers who served during World War II. Principal Ron Agostinoni whose grandfather served in World War II presented along with Roger Grout whose father served in World War II as part of a flight crew.

Grout said it was important for him to speak to students because he’s worried that important stories and parts of our history are going to be forgotten unless those stories are shared with younger generations.