“All the middle schoolers for the next 10 minutes shook his hand,” said Norwalk High School science teacher Nate Whaley, an adviser for the annual Huron County Honor Trip. “He said it was one of the highlights of the trip.”
More than 30 area veterans went with nearly fifteen students from New London and Norwalk during two weekend trips in October. The local group, which included spouses, children and friends, visited: the National Air and Space Museum, the Air Force, Pentagon, Vietnam, Korean War and World War II memorials, the wreath laying at Arlington Cemetery, the Disabled American Veterans for Life Memorial and American History Museum.
“The trip is designed to pay respects and honor the veterans (who) have served in the associated wars. For many veterans, this is a step in the healing process. Sharing this experience with their brothers and sisters in arms provides a different dynamic, understanding and reverence. As stated at the beginning of the bus trip, we all leave as strangers, but return as friends and family,” said Whaley, who served in the U.S. Army Reserves and Army.
NHS students shared their experiences with the school board during a presentation, which included photos of the three-day trip.
“We met with four other New London students. We got to know them pretty well,” sophomore Mitchell Sommers said. “The trip mostly was Vietnam veterans. We had one Korean War veteran.”
Sommers assisted with the ceremonial laying of the wreath at Arlington Cemetery.
“That was really special,” the NHS student said.
Whaley, during the school board presentation, said students are an important part of the Honor Trips since the veterans share their experiences and that helps them with their healing process. He complimented the students on “their willingness to do whatever is needed” to help the veterans and their family and friends enjoy the weekend.
Students help those veterans who need pushed in wheelchairs, assist them in carrying items and serve as overall hosts for the trip.
“During this experience in helping, stories are shared and a generational divide is bridged. Students, veterans and family members create friendships with one another through this experience. Students commonly remark that this trip to Washington, D.C. is more than a visit, it is an experience,” Whaley said.
“The kids really did an outstanding job,” he added.