DEAR ABBY: I am asking that you get the word out to veterans across the country and encourage them to start a Veterans in the Classroom program in their local schools. We started the program described below after a history teacher called for help in teaching her students what the war was really like. These are stories that cannot be found in history books.
One veteran from each branch of service, and from both the European and Pacific theaters, make up the program panel. Before the presentation, we ask that students submit five questions that interest them most. During our presentation, we try to address as many of those questions as possible. Each vet covers the following topics:
1. A brief personal history from enlistment to overseas departure.
2. Arrival overseas -- where, when, major battles, etc.
3. A close-call story.
4. A funny-experience story.
5. Time for questions and answers.
6. Display of memorabilia that students can view and discuss with the vets, one-on-one.
The program is videotaped so that the true stories, told firsthand by the vets who experienced them, can be shown to future generations of students. Local press and TV are invited. Presentations by veterans from Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War could follow.
Our Veterans in the Classrooms program has been well received, and our wish is that other veterans will put on programs such as this in their local schools. We would be happy to serve as a resource for other veterans groups.
Thank you, Abby, for helping us encourage other vets to keep this important part of America's history alive. -- RALPH H. GEORGE, FOUNTAIN HILLS, ARIZ.
DEAR RALPH: What a terrific idea, and what a precious resource for students in the classroom. I'm sure other veterans will agree that your concept has merit and will be willing to step forward and volunteer their stories.
Not all students grasp the concepts of history by reading and memorizing dates in textbooks. History teachers who would like to give their students a more immediate sense of these events could contact their local VFW posts and request speakers from each branch of the service.
Veterans who are interested in setting up programs like this one can contact Ralph George by writing to him at 14425 San Carlos Drive, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268. By sharing your stories you'll walk into the classroom as strangers and walk out as heroes.