JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – LACKLAND, TEXAS –
Veteran’s Day means many things to many people. For a select group of volunteers from 25th Air Force, and Joint Base San Antonio, this November 11 meant spending their day educating local students on the importance of honoring military members, past and present.
Stevenson Middle School students welcomed 44 Airmen for a full day of events. The students spent the day honoring their visitors, while active-duty and veteran Airmen educated the students on the commitment and sacrifices made by this nation’s military forces.
Stevenson Middle School Principal Chuck Baldridge said he has always stressed community engagement.
“I was seeking an opportunity for our students and staff to not only express gratitude to our Veterans, but also to have our students and staff learn more about Veterans and Veterans Day,” Baldridge said.
The students placed signs around the school thanking Veterans for their service. They also placed flags around the school grounds, hosted a breakfast in honor of veterans and hosted military members and veterans in all of the school’s history classes throughout the day.
The selfless service of all Veterans should be recognized, said retired Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Slater, a teacher at the school. He hopes the students appreciate that Veterans come from all walks of life, just like them.
“I believe it is important for all of us, including our youth, to value selfless service and the willingness of others to subjugate their personal desires to the benefit of others,” Slater said.
Tech. Sgt. Beverly DeKerguelen, or "DK", reporting section chief, 93rd Intelligence Squadron, volunteered to participate in the event for several reasons.
“I grew up hating the subject of history in school. I thought it was soooo boring, and what was the point? All that stuff was over and done with... who cares, right?” DeKerguelen said. Then, she joined the military.
“After 9/11 I became obsessed with understanding what was going on in the Middle East. What was the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims? What did Al Qaida want, and why or how did they come about?” she said. The questions persisted from then on, and she had to know more about everything.
“I wanted to know why World War II happened and I wanted to hear and read as many individual personal stories as I could find from the event,” she said. “Same thing for the Civil War, World War I, the Holocaust, Hitler, Putin, the U.S. Presidents, the politics of abolishing slavery, and so on.
“I joined the military hoping to serve my country the way many of the people in the books I had read served,” DeKerguelen said. “I have not been fortunate, or unfortunate, enough to be involved in any seriously dangerous war situations during my service, but I wouldn't hesitate to answer the call if it came. I want our youth to become more interested in history and in the service of our veterans as I did because their sacrifice should never be overshadowed or go unappreciated. The real war stories should be told, and not just who won what battle and when.”
One of the students who listened to Airmen speak during her history class appreciated what she learned this Veteran’s Day.
“No one ever talked to us individually like that before,” the student said. “They talked about the aircraft, and I thought that was cool.”
Chief Master Sgt. Marcus Penn of the Air Education and Training Command, Inspector General’s office, reminded students in Michelle Wheeler’s history class they can recognize veterans and servicemembers every day, not just on Veteran’s Day.
“This day is special, but what about all the other 364 days of the year. Someone paid the price for me,” Penn said, as he reminded students they can recognize veterans and servicemembers in the grocery store, at restaurants and at other places throughout the year.