Community Pays Tribute to Vietnam Veterans
Derek Pezo '19 & Bushra Choudhury '19
27 May 2019
During the week of May 6th, students of Passaic Valley were given the opportunity to learn more about the Vietnam War through a comprehensive, hands-on experience. In partnership with the Jersey Explorer Children's Museum, students were able to further grasp the cultural significance of the Vietnam War through a touching assembly and eye-opening exhibits in and outside of school.
With 2019 being the 44th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the PV administration and faculty members wanted to make a connection between what was being taught in class to the memorial and its meaning. “I believe that the things we take most from us when we leave here are the experiences that we had, and the teachers that made a difference in our lives," stated Superintendent Dr. JoAnn Cardillo.
In correspondence with Gary Patnosh of the Jersey Explorer Children's Museum and Freeholder Sandi Lazzara, Dr. Cardillo and faculty members were able to provide students with an assembly, an in-school exhibit (which was curated by the museum and presented by Ms. Leanne Weiss), and field trips to Garret Mountain to view the opening of the Vietnam Moving Wall exhibit taking place there.
During the assembly, a slideshow presentation showed pictures of veterans, medics, and others who served. Teachers also read excerpts from letters and documents, which were written during the time period. The personal nature of several of the letters clearly struck an emotional chord with speakers and viewers alike.
Following the assembly students and teachers were encouraged to visit the temporary Vietnam War exhibit, which took place in the Wrestling Gym. Presented by Ms. Weiss and curated by the New Jersey Explorer Children's Museum, the exhibit included photos from the war zone, letters, official documents, personal items left at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC, and a replica of a soldier's bedroom. "It's definitely a completely different experience, seeing these things in person, as opposed to learning about the war from a textbook," began Michael Burgos '19. "It really puts things into perspective."
At the Garret Mountain Reservation, students of U.S. History I and II were able to see another exhibit, known as The Moving Wall. The exhibit, a replica of the famed wall located in Washington D.C., has the names of American soldiers who lost their lives during the war. "Once people actually saw the memorial and all of the names, it goes to show how many lives this war actually took," stated Mr. Michael Sheehan, teacher of U.S. History I.
As many students visited the memorial, the topic took on a greater meaning. “It’s shocking to see that many of these soldiers that were drafted were essentially my age. This memorial really made me reflect upon my own life," commented Pablo Arias ‘20. “The entire memorial really touched me; to actually see all of these names with your own eyes definitely has a greater impact, and it makes us all appreciate what we have.”