9th annual Veterans Day assembly held at Lionville Middle School
UWCHLAN >> While veterans at the ninth annual Lionville Middle School Veterans Day assembly Friday said the hardest part about serving was being away from their families, many of them wished they stayed in the service longer than they did.
The veterans told the Downingtown Area School District students that before cellphones, they wrote letters and it took two weeks for a response. They
also waited in line to use the payphone to call home. Air Force veteran Kathy Constantine, who served from 1990-94, said at times it was scary to serve in an unfamiliar place where they didn’t understand the language. She said the hard part about serving overseas was being separated from her family and she called home to talk to her parents. She said that many service members may miss out on special moments back home when deployed.
“A lot of people that are serving right now have left their families; their kids are here in the United States while they are overseas,” Constantine said. “The separation is hard and they’re missing out on their kids’ lives so that they can serve their country.”
She encouraged the female students that they can serve and she hopes to hear about Lionville students serving in the military. Her daughter, Jada, is a member of the school’s Patriots Club.
“This is not just something that men do,” Constantine said. “We all owe it to our country to serve.”
When asked by students about the best part with their drill sergeant, several veterans simply said “graduation” and the students laughed along with them. The veterans said that while many of them didn’t enjoy “boot camp” at the time, they learned about working together as a team with people from various backgrounds. They told the students that after basic training, they realized how much their drill sergeants taught them. They understood that the drill sergeants were tough on them to better them and make them stronger.
Mark Daisey, 19, said he knew since he was 7 years old that he wanted to be a Marine. He saw a commercial about the Marine Corps and became driven to join. He enlisted last year with the support of his family. The veterans and active service members present said they joined the military when they were 17 or 18 years old.
When asked for advice, Daisey encouraged the students to talk to recruiters from the various branches as soon as possible to get help seeking what they want to do in their military career and ask about what programs they can take advantage of during and after their service.
The veterans noted that the military has numernities. ous educational opportunities. Army veteran Todd Sowinski, who served from 1991-2015 used his GI Bill to continue his education because he said he couldn’t afford it on his own. Army veteran James Fox said after he served, he went onto get his nursing degree, then his bachelor’s degree in political science and after he retired he got his PhD.
“Everything you learn in the military is great,” Fox said.
Fox was drafted, along with every male senior in his high school. He noted his family history of having a family member serve in every war since the Revolutionary War. He said if he stayed in the Army he would have been able to retire at 38 years of age.
“After I went in, I was glad I was in. I enjoyed being in the service,” Fox said. He served as a medic in the Vietnam War. “After I got out, I said I should have stayed.”
Veteran Ralph Bassetti said his family members wished they had stayed in the service longer and they would have been eligible for a pension after 20 years of service. He joined the Army in 1967 and after completing advanced infantry training, he was sent to Vietnam from 1968-69. He married his wife shortly after returning home and they will be celebrating 50 years of marriage next month. He served in the Army for 10 years and two years later he joined the Air Force Reserves and served for another 12 years, retiring as a Master Sgt.
Patriots Club President and Student Council President Ozkar Bustos told his classmates that Veterans Day is about honoring the courageous men and women who risk their lives to keep others safe.
“It’s about them because they are America’s finest,” Bustos said. “They deserve to be honored.”
Lionville Principal Jonathan Ross encouraged the students to continue thanking veterans they see in the future, and especially on Veterans Day. The seventh and eighth grade students welcomed the veterans to the assembly with applause and handmade signs thanking the veterans.
Visit Daily Local News staff writer Ginger Rae Dunbar’s blog about journalism and volunteering as a firefighter at FirefighterGinger. blogspot.com.
Lionville Middle School students escort veterans around their school prior to the start of the ninth annual LMS Veterans Day assembly on Friday.
Lionville Middle School students welcome veterans into the ninth annual LMS Veterans Day assembly on Friday with applause and handmade signs thanking the veterans for their service.
Army veteran James Fox, right, served as a medic in the Vietnam War.