Lowcountry students learn importance of Veteran's Day - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry students learn the importance of Veteran's Day firsthand

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Jerry Conlon with students from Riverview Charter School. Jerry Conlon with students from Riverview Charter School.
BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) -

President John F. Kennedy famously said, "And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country!"

Some Riverview Charter School students are already thinking of how they can live up to that challenge. On an annual trip to Washington, D.C's Arlington National Cemetery last year, students passed several veterans.

One in particular touched their lives, a WWII veteran and POW in Germany, Jerry Conlon.

Said sixth-grader Mabrey Kolb, "He kinda just made us all laugh and he was just really sweet."

Ann Marie Bowden with Riverview Charter School said, "He shook every one of out students' hands, gave lots of hugs and then we were crying as we were speaking to him and listening to his story."

After meeting him, the students asked Conlon to stay in touch. He sent a hand-made scrapbook which detailed his biography and adventures, hoping they would remember the legacy he and his comrades left behind in America's history.

Christopher Jenkins, a sixth-grader, was in awe of Conlon.

"He's lived through all the stuff that we've been learning about and he's like an icon!"

The students wrote thank you letters back to Conlon and soon a friendship was born. Conlon wrote back and encouraged them to watch "The Great Escape," a movie based on his experiences in Germany.

A year later, students say it's opened their eyes to what it means to be an American.

"If they didn't fight for our country, we could be something else," said sixth-grader Jeffrey Bland. "They fought for our freedom, now we need to start giving back to them."

The students agree that it's now up to them to make sure they legacy Conlon and many others started will never be forgotten.

As a surprise to the students, the school is trying to arrange a trip for Conlon to come visit. If you would like to help fund the cost of the trip, contact Riverview Charter School at 843.379.0123 or info@riverviewcharterschool.org.

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