gmhTODAY 22 gmhToday Oct Nov 2018 - Page 76

Army solider Lenny Bernstein saw combat and helped to liberate a concentration camp during WWII HONORING THE “GREATEST GENERATION” Teen Engages Veterans to Discuss War, Sacrifice and History By Cyrus Kamkar In the following article, Cyrus Kamkar (Mount Madonna School [MMS] class of 2018) offers a perspective based on his interest in World War II and the veterans who have served in the United States military. Last spring, Kamkar organized a veterans panel held at MMS. The public is invited to a second panel discussion on Friday, November 9, from 9:00-11:30am at the school. 76 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Navy veteran James “JP” Petersen talks with MMS students OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 provided W orld War II history has always been a strong interest of mine. When I was 14, I remember telling my mom “I need to meet and talk to a WWII veteran.” The very next day, I saw an old man wearing a WWII combat veteran hat. I thanked him for his service and told him about my interest. He offered to arrange a meeting so he could further tell me his stories. His name was Joe, and he served in the navy on a destroyer ship in the Pacific. He passed away about a year after I interviewed him. Since then I have continued to interview veterans. At the beginning of the school year, a teacher asked us to pick something that you are passionate about, and create something social or interactive with it. I decided to do the project on what I have already been doing, and to branch out to veterans from other wars, such as Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq/Afghanistan. I also thought it would be a good idea to bring a panel of veterans up to MMS to share their stories, which took a lot of work to organize. I made sure to interview each participating veteran before the event so I could have individual questions for each person about their experience, rather than the same questions for all. I feel that respect for veterans in today's culture is lacking, unfortunately, especially amongst my age group. The panel discussion at MMS was amazing! I wanted to make sure students had the opportunity to listen to these veterans’ stories. The event went for two and a half hours, and I was shocked to see at the end, that instead of going straight to lunch, all the students walked up and thanked the veterans for their service. My goal with this effort is to spread awareness of the importance of soldiers’ sacrifices. When people talk about how horrible Hitler was, they forget to mention that he could have won. If it weren’t for the United States and its brave soldiers, the world would be a very different place. What I am doing is not a message of pro war, if anything, it is anti-war. The further away we get from remembering these incidents in history, the closer we are to war and losing freedom. This can’t be thought of as something that happened a long time ago. War is relevant. I am thankful to our faculty for allowing this panel discussion to happen. I am also very grateful for the veterans who participated: James “JP” Petersen (S-1 seaman, Navy, WWII),