Emilija Sagaityte and Fernando Castro
The shaking of hands and uttering of thank-you’s mark the start of another Veterans’ Day. Many people, though, often spend the day waving the American flag in honor of veterans whose names allude them and whose faces they have never seen, thanking the idea of a veteran, rather than a specific person, for his or her service. There are, however, people in our own Radnor community who have proudly come out to share their stories about their experiences and their thoughts on Veterans’ Day, so we can now take the time to thank Mr. Hurt, Mr. Epstein, Mr. Perchetti, and Mr. Tyldsley in person and recognize the time, effort, skill, courage, and bravery that they put into preserving our homeland and our valuable freedoms.
We honor Mr. Hurt, who now works in technical support at RHS but was formerly the Chief Aviation Boatswain Mate in the U.S. Navy. Since he grew up in an area where there weren’t many job opportunities besides working in a factory and he wasn’t able to attend college, he enlisted in the navy directly after graduating high school, hoping that he would gain additional skills from his experience that may prove useful and open up doors to several other careers in the future. After joining the Navy, the idea of “esprit de corps”, or the feelings of loyalty, friendship, trust, and pride amongst a group of people, motivated him to become a better Sailor. Mr. Hurt said that he gained the feeling of pride after being introduced to the idea that the U.S. military is more powerful than all others in the world, and the sense of unity results from the fact that everyone in the military has the same goal to win the war while helping others. There were still a few people who stood out to him throughout his years of service, including Chief Willingham, who helped Mr. Hurt become a successful leader and supplied him with advice and skills his first time on a ship, which Mr. Hurt was then able pass down to others in the future. Mr. Hurt also enjoyed serving “without a doubt” and considered it an “honor”. He gained a lot of knowledge, met new people, and witnessed and experienced many things, such as getting the opportunity to travel around the world and being able to provide humanitarian aid during the first Gulf war. The experience also greatly affected him by providing him with a sense of purpose and pride that continues to this day and that is not only reflected in himself but in his grown children, as well. Mr. Hurt also said that the experience helped him “gain an understanding of our place in the world” and gave him a “good life in general”. Now, he views Veterans’ Day as a time when people can remember the military’s sacrifices in times of battles, loss, and sorrow, as well as in times of peace, that have ultimately made our country what it is.
We honor Mr. Epstein, a proud member of the US Navy Marine Force. His rank was a Petty Officer in Class ET1 Navigation.
We also honor Mr. Perchetti who served in the US army in the Infantry Unit and Transportation Unit. He was a Specialist rank. After spending two years in college Mr.Perchetti decided he wanted to travel, and at the age of 20, joined the army. He wasn’t the first in his family to do so, as his father served from 1942-1946 and had having ancestors serve in the Civil War. Mr. Perchetti served in “Operation Joint Logistics, Over the Shore” in Virginia where he met one of his closest friends, who came from Nigeria. He made another close friend with a Korean man during his time serving as the 2nd Infantry Division in Camp Casey, Republic of Korea, from 1989-1991. The tools and activities on active duty were enjoyable, although it was physically and mentally exhausting for him. On Veterans Day, he thinks of the men that were or currently separated from their families. These brave men should be honored every day for the proud service they bring us and the sacrifice they make for others. (Incomplete)
Finally, we honor Mr. Tyldsley, a paraprofessional for special education who was formerly a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. For him, Veterans’ Day is a time for him to remember those who served in the war to protect our freedoms and values and who then passed away either in combat or later in life, as well. As he also explained, Veterans’ Day may just be a “date on a calendar” that some people don’t really take to heart, but he believes that it would be great if people could still thank those who they know have served, and now we have the opportunity to express our gratitude towards these four men.
Not to mention, Radnor High school students didn’t take Veterans’ Day (which also happened to conveniently be USA Spirit Day this year) for granted and took their community period to recognize and honor these veterans, and several teachers and students, including Mrs. O’Rourke, Grant Plotkin, Anna Garson, Cassie Maz, and Brad Henkin, willingly spent even more time beforehand getting to know these veterans one-on-one and preparing the presentation for the rest of the students. After Mrs. O’Rourke thanked the veterans for their service at the start of the assembly, the trumpets from the band performed the national anthem. Students then made speeches about the importance of veterans in our country, and as they pointed out, we should thank the “heroes” who have served and fought for the freedoms we have today. As can be seen from comments from students and teachers at Radnor, all of our Constitutional Rights, whether they be the right to free speech or the right to vote, are very important, even if they sometimes slip past our minds. You wouldn’t even be reading these words right now if it weren’t for the freedom of press that those who serve for our country protect every day, along with countless others. During the assembly, we were also reminded that it is the veterans who have actually provided us with the freedoms that we cherish, so they cannot be forgotten. Everyone was then introduced to the four members of the Radnor community who had served, and Taps, a song that used to be played for soldiers before they went to bed and that is now played at military funerals, was played for the deceased who had stood near or on the battlefield, defending us and defending our nation.
Those who have served will also be permanently commemorated in the main lobby of the high school with the building of the Wall of Honor, on which the names and information about 55 veterans that were graduates of Radnor High School will be inscribed on plaques. Parts of the wall will also be interactive and will include flag boxes for those who didn’t make it to see the end of the war. The high school’s senior seminar class originally came up with the idea for it as a reminder of the sacrifice of the graduates who decided to join the military. It may take a lot of work and time to actually bring this wall to life by Memorial Day, but funding for it officially began this past Veterans’ Day.
Therefore, this year’s Veterans’ Day may have been brought to a close, but just like the assembly concluded with a massive round of applause for those who served, with the building of the Wall of Honor, our awareness of the veterans in our community, and the existence of an entire day to remember those people, hopefully that applause will echo throughout the hallways and within each of us for years to come, honoring the served, the serving, and the fallen.