WWII Veteran Reflects on Lest We Forget VC

Last week I wrote about our videoconferences celebrating veterans day. One of our World War II veterans, Ray Sreboth, wrote a little reflection on the experience. I obtained permission to share it here with you:

This morning, I was once more was involved in one of those two way interactive TV, living history sessions at the Berrien Regional Educational Service Center where I had served as Superintendent for some 14 years. Unlike previous gigs, we had one or two Vets on a panel, each, from WWII, Korea and Nam. Of course, that made me the senior member of the group. We interacted with kids in Texas, mostly from the Dallas School District and they were terrific! Grade levels varied from 4th grade, middle school to senior high school. There were a lots of Jr. ROTC members, boy and girls, Army and Marine Corps units.  They were the best prepared of all of the classes I seen in the three or four years.  The Lest We Forget Org has been participating in the program and I salute the students and their teachers: all of them did their homework. The pupils asked good questions, very clearly, were attentive and were taking notes. The ROTC Cadets stood at attention when asking a question and remained standing till the answers we forthcoming; they thanked us and took a seat. Each grade seemed to have distinctive and uniform clothing, i.e.; one group had red shirts, another blue etc.

Though I wasn’t feeling very well, I made an effort to show up and I told the Director, given the opportunity, I wanted to made two points. If nothing else this day: (1) That as these youngsters grow up they will run into Holocaust Deniers, perhaps even their college professors will be in that group and I wanted them to know I saw the prisoners who had been freed /released from Buchenwald — at least those who were alive — and I told the kids they should not believe who say those crimes against humanity never took place and that  I would never forget the sight of those living skeletons wearing what appeared to be pajamas made from flour sacks. And (2) that those entering college ROTC should understand, as should their parents, that the were not going to get a “free college education” in such a program, at they were not signing up for the Boy Scouts or Camp Fire Girls and that, when commissioned, they would probably be required to serve in the military and that they just might be put into harm’s way as a result of such service. I suggested that their parents should be fully aware of such circumstances as well.

I concluded my remarks at one session by mentioning how in my school days we observed Armistice Day, which marked the end of WWI and that it was a big deal in my day and I recited the poem In Flanders Fields, which we learned in about the 5th grade in the CPS. I did not tell them how at 11 AM on Nov. 11, we stood, in silence and Faced east for the boys who went west.

What a powerful experience for students, veterans, and videoconference coordinators!!

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