Apr 11, 2012 6:47 PM by Andy Koen

Firsthand history lesson

Honors history students from Coronado High School are getting a personal lesson about our nation's wars from the men and women who fought them. Around 90 students spent the day Wednesday at the Inn at Garden Plaza Retirement Community recording interviews with veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Teacher Jill Haffley says the interviews are preserved with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

"We make copies for the veteran and we send off the DVD, another DVD, to the Library of Congress and we include in there anything that the veteran wants to donate," she said.

Among the dozen or so veterans interviewed was Bill Tray, a retired Air Force major who served for 33 years.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Tray said. "It kind of surprises me that it's going to the records in Washington, I don't know where they keep all that stuff," he joked.

The students say learning about the Cuban Missle Crisis more personal and memorable when hearing from Tray who was a missle commander during that era.

"Just the procedure of actually getting into the launch room and the work area was pretty elaborate," said Jacob Carson.

"I think it's been a great experience, get to talk to some of the heros of our history," added classmate Daniel Alter.

This is the fifth year Coronado students have taken part in the Veterans History Project. While their homework will becomes a permanent part of our national record, teacher Haffley hopes the lesson will become a permanent part of her student's lives.

"The kids they go into it looking like a deer in the headlights and when they come out they start whispering to each other 'well, my vet was this' and other kids will say 'well, our vet did that,'" she said.

Anyone can contribute to the Veterans History Project. The American Folklife Center collects and preserves personal narratives, letters and correspondence and photographs. Click here to learn more about the project and how to participate.

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    Bill Tray, USAF Ret'd
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