9th an­nual Veter­ans Day as­sem­bly held at Lionville Mid­dle School

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ginger Rae Dun­bar gdun­bar@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @GingerDun­bar on Twit­ter

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.

GINGER RAE DUN­BAR – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lionville Mid­dle School stu­dents es­cort veter­ans around their school prior to the start of the ninth an­nual LMS Veter­ans Day as­sem­bly on Fri­day.

GINGER RAE DUN­BAR – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

GINGER RAE DUN­BAR – DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Army vet­eran James Fox, right, served as a medic in the Viet­nam War.

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