Remembering veterans

Memorial: Fifth-graders pay a visit to sites honoring those who served in America's wars from their Carroll County town.

November 11, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

In the lobby of Manchester Elementary, the children have erected a Wall of Honor - poster boards filled with small blue stars, each inscribed with the name of a veteran with ties to someone at the Carroll County school.

A memorial to veterans from the town stands within an easy walk from the school. Near the school's playground sits a small marble marker honoring a Manchester alumnus who lost his life in the Persian Gulf war 12 years ago.

A group of fifth-grade pupils visited those three spots yesterday and spoke solemnly of service to country.

"These people helped give America its freedom," said Nicole Helie, who had written the names of her father, who served in the Navy, and her grandfather, a Vietnam veteran, on the school's Wall of Honor. "We don't want to forget them ever."

Jenna Krebs pointed to the names of her grandfathers, both World War II veterans. "I am very proud of them," she said.

The wall was the first stop the 10-year-olds made yesterday. From there, they walked along York Street to the town hall and stopped before a large granite monument that bears the names of nearly 500 veterans from the town, 24 of which were added last week. As four veterans watched, the children gently brushed their fingers down columns of names etched under the war in which the veterans served.

"I know someone with this last name," said Lauren Rose. "This shows people cared about these veterans because they put their names on this place."

Charles I. Miller, a 73-year-old veteran of Korea and Vietnam, gave the children a brief history of the monument, originally cast in bronze in 1949. The bronze marker was embedded in a larger granite one nearly 50 years later. He told them a star by a veteran's name meant a combat death.

"All these people are from the Manchester area and many of them were killed in action," Miller said. "Here is Jimmy Zumbrun, who used to live right over there on Church Street. He was killed in a helicopter in Vietnam. Here is Michael Kidd, who lived on a farm not far from here. He died in Vietnam, too. We have lots more room on the wall for veterans, but I hope there are no more killed in action."

One of the children, Joshua Stonko, looked at the blank space on the back of the monument and said, "This will be for the Iraq veterans." Schoolmate Zachary Schilling said the heading on the monument's next column will read "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

The class left a small American flag at the monument making sure, with Miller's help, that it was positioned correctly. Then, they made their way to the final stop, the memorial to Army Spec. Charles L. Bowman Jr., a soldier who had attended their school and later North Carroll High.

This class knew much about Bowman, who died April 2, 1991, while clearing a minefield in Iraq. His nephew Bryan Charles Gartrell goes to their school. Bowman's name was emblazoned in silver at the center of their Wall of Honor and listed with a star on the town monument.

Joshua said, "He is special to us because he went here to school."

Bette Beachy, the children's teacher, will continue the Veterans Day observance today. The class will discuss books with patriotic themes and hear the personal stories of Miller and several other area veterans.

"We heard some powerful messages today," Beachy said.

Beachy chose the three stops to provide the children with strong examples of service to country. Maggie Zepp said she hoped her teacher would organize the observance every year.

"It is important for us to see the people from Manchester who have fought in wars and died for us," Maggie said.

Jacob MacLean-Blevins said, "Make it a tradition!"

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