Main Street School honors vets for 'stepping forward'

Cary Ashby • Nov 12, 2018 at 9:00 PM

U.S. Army veteran Tom Cook said he “can’t think of a greater service than serving your country.”

That’s one of the reasons he continues to serve the community, he told the students and veterans during the annual Veterans Day assembly Monday at Main Street School. Cook is a sergeant with the Norwalk Police Department. 

“It’s kinda overwhelming that we are honored like this,” said Jeremy Norris, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Norris added that such recognition isn’t expected when one enlists in the military. He also said while it’s true that Marines enjoy “ragging on” other branches of the military, he equated it to a school rivalry. 

“I love all these guys up here,” said Norris, noting he would give his life for the other veterans and was confident they would do the same.

Cook and Norris were part of a panel of local veterans — a tradition in the Main Street School assembly. The other panelists were: Amos Albright, Paul Bennett and Josh Schlotterer, all of whom served in the U.S. Navy. Albright and Schlotterer are Norwalk High School graduates.

The veterans who attended the assembly accounted for nearly 400 years of service. Vets and their family members sat in the middle section of the auditorium.

Principal Dan Bauman said Veterans Day is a time to honor and appreciate the men and women “stepping forward to protect our liberties.”

“We are very appreciative of what you do,” he added.

The panelists took questions from the audience. One of the first ones was about basic training.

“I really thought basic training was a lot of fun,” said Bennett, expressing an opinion not shared by the rest of the panel. “The worst part was the lack of sleep.”

Schlotterer said the most difficult part for him was the sense of isolation and being away from his family. With the exception of Albright, who had access to FaceTime and social media during his time in the Navy, the veterans said mail was the way they kept in touch with family members, unless they were lucky enough to make a phone call. 

“I spent a lot of money making phone calls back home,” Schlotterer said.

The panelists agreed that the Air Force bases have the best food of all the military branches.

“The Air Force is best for their chow halls — and their air support,” Norris said.

The veterans were asked what they have learned in the military that they have used in civilian life. Bennett shared how his time in the Navy taught him how to handle adversity.

“It taught me how to deal with the bad in a good way,” he said.

Each panelist continues to stay in touch with their fellow service members and appreciated being able to travel the world, experiencing things they wouldn’t otherwise. Cook, who went to Italy, Greece and Rome, said most civilians wouldn’t be able to afford to go to such places.

Albright said he doesn’t think he will have “greater bond” than with his fellow members of the Navy.

“Those bonds go forever,” Schlotterer added.

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