I visited the Warhawk Air Museum, with my son — and four busses full of field-tripping middle schoolers.
As we entered the museum, we were greeted by a friendly staff and lots of volunteer veterans. The students sat on the ground and listened to the museum’s co-founder, Sue Paul, explain the importance and impact the armed services has had in shaping our country. She took time to recognize each student who had a family member who served, or is serving in the military. Then she introduced the veterans who had come to share a bit of their past with the students.
The students divided into small groups and listened to individual veterans talk about their experience. They each shared pictures and memorabilia from their time in the armed services.
One veteran, who served in the Air Force, explained how the Cold War had began and ended. He displayed parts and pictures from the planes he worked on. He said the Air Force had helped prevent a third world war, by flying planes over Russia; 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, for nearly 40 years!
The second veteran spoke of the importance of getting a good education. He disliked school when he was young and didn’t believe he was very smart, until a teacher took the time to help him. When he joined the armed services, he was encouraged to get a college degree. His education gave him the opportunity to work on highly classified assignments. He expressed his great love for our nation and the positive impact the United States has had on worldwide innovations and democracy.
The third veteran was drafted to the Navy during World War II. He shared pictures and stories of his ship and fellow soldiers. He also served in post-war Japan. He was profoundly impacted by the starvation of the post-war Japaneese people and the generosity of the United States in rebuilding Japan.
Each vetran’s story was moving and powerful. The students explored the museum and learned more about veterans from all over Idaho. The field trip ended with a Q&A with the veterans.
One seventh grader asked “What was your favorite thing to do in the military?”
Their answers included jumping out of airplanes, traveling the world and playing a football game on an aircraft carrier. The quarterback threw a long pass and as the receiver jumped to catch the ball, he fell off the edge of the ship!
If you haven’t had a chance to take your kids to the Warhawk Air Museum, I highly recommend it. It’s also an ideal way to spend Memorial Day, May 27.