Vietnam Vets Visit History Students - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/06/06

Vietnam Vets Visit History Students

The media center at Southeast Bulloch High. The media center at Southeast Bulloch High.

It isn't easy to get teenagers interested in history. But one teacher has found a way to connect students with history makers. Tonight, Vietnam veterans will help teach high schoolers about their war and their experiences.

The students in Phil Oliver's history class at Southeast Bulloch High in Brooklet turned their media center into a museum with more excitement than they'll ever bring to any exam. For the third year, the school welcomes veterans for Project VET, Veterans Educating Teens.

"It's the old Aristotle adage, 'That which we discover, we own,'" said Oliver.

Focused on Vietnam this year, students invited 150 veterans of that war to tell their stories and bring history to life.

"The textbook says what years it happened and where and certain battles," noted 11th grader Ashley Akins, adding the visit helps "to realize this affected people in Bulloch County--people we know, grandparents, friends, relatives."

That list includes Southeast Bulloch science teacher Donald Burke, who says, like many, he couldn't talk about his experiences for years. "Vietnam veterans weren't honored much when we came home," he said. "We kind of had to come in the back door to keep from getting spat upon and insulted, so it's good to see us getting some honor finally."

This year's Project VET includes another feature, a model of the Vietnam Memorial that includes just the names of Georgians lost in that war.

For youngsters who sometimes consider last week's news ancient history, this kind of dialogue can make two generations ago much, much closer.

The program starts at 6:30pm at Southeast Bulloch High. The featured speaker is retired four-star general Tom Ryan. Two years ago, Oliver's class did the same thing with World War II veterans, and last year Korea.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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