The observations and inspirations derived from a program recognizing and honoring a small percentage (approximately 7 percent) of the U.S. population can be quite different from one individual to the next. Many leave a Veterans Day program feeling an increased sense of patriotism. Some with the feeling of self-gratification because they did the right thing by attending.
Then, there are those who see an opportunity to build on a moment in time that brought multiple generations together for a singular purpose.
Karen Clarke, Spanish teacher and member of the Wilmington High School Diversity Team, was impressed with the interactions between students and veterans present at the first-ever (to the best of her knowledge) all-student Veterans Day assembly at the school.
The students had shown their support and respect for the veterans, and Karen didn’t want this to be a one-time event. She saw a chance to nurture some generational relationships and began the search for opportunities.
Clarke recalled a project in which her daughter participated while a student at Stanford University. The program involved sending Valentine’s Day cards to veterans, and she thought this would be an excellent way for the students to show their support for veterans and do it in a personal way. (Karen Clarke’s daughter is a pediatrician and Major in the U.S. Air Force stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.)
Karen purchased the materials needed and reached out to fellow teachers Nikki Killen, Ann Jacobsen, Stephanie Manso and Jessica Shelton, who helped her get 165+ students involved in making Valentine’s cards.
Everything needed to have a successful “Valentines for Vets” program was in place — except for the vets.
Clarke was referred to a participant in the Veterans Day program, Paul Butler, who recommended the Ohio Veterans Home at Georgetown. She agreed, and the cards were delivered to Melissa Ladd, Activity Supervisor at the Home, and Hanna Hopper, Volunteer Coordinator, on Valentine’s Day.
Hopper and her volunteers distributed the cards to each of the 155 residents at the Home.
Clarke continues to look for additional opportunities for WHS students to interact with veterans, and is committed to building generational relationships.