A salute to veterans
It was a standing ovation as veterans took an honored place at the front of Loveland Middle School (LMS) Auditorium packed with LMS students showing sincere gratitude for the time the special guests spent presenting their stories to classes Monday, May 19. As the robust round of applause began to slow, Marine Corps Veteran Ace Gilbert took the microphone to say thank you, and remind the students why Memorial Day is so special.
The auditorium fell silent as a presentation of Taps commenced, sounded by Lieutenant Colonel Rob White, a veteran of the United States Army and United States Marine Corps, who has participated in the LMS Veterans' Visit for several years, and also works as a substitute teacher for Loveland Schools.
“The enthusiasm that the students showed to all of the visiting veterans at the assembly was truly inspirational,” said David Fletcher, LMS social studies teacher.
Fletcher plans the LMS Veterans Program each year; this year he presented two World War II Veterans whose units were involved in the liberation of concentration camps with a plaque just before Holocaust Survivor Werner Coppel addressed the auditorium of students with intimate details of his imprisonment and escape.
“The standing ovation for our veterans, especially for our two World War II veterans, Bill Mansfield and William Sutton, showed the strong sense of patriotic appreciation that the eighth graders had for all of those who came to LMS to share their time and military experiences with the students,” said Fletcher. “During the Veterans' Visit, our students had the opportunity to meet and talk with two veterans who fought in the war that ended the tyrannical rule of the Nazis in Europe. Then they learned from Werner Coppel's personal story detailing his life during the Holocaust.
“He shared his experiences of how terrible life was for him – and millions of others who were persecuted – under the Nazis and also how he and his friends fought to survive. Werner (as he insists I call him) provided everyone at the assembly with a lesson that we all need to remember: there is still prejudice, hate and inhumanity in our world and each and every one of us must do what we can do to stand up and oppose those things. We all have a personal responsibility to promote fairness, justice and kindness in our world.”
Photo caption (L to R): World War II Veteran Staff Sergeant Bill Mansfield meets Holocaust Survivor Werner Coppel after the formal presentation at Loveland Middle School. Mansfield served in the 80th Infantry Division in World War II. The 80th Infantry Division was one of the units involved in the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp.