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Students, veterans connect

Alissa Widman Neese • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

A group of Vermilion High School students accomplished an impressive feat Tuesday: planning, preparing and executing a meal for about 70 U.S. military veterans.

To the high schoolers, the most gratifying sight wasn’t the finished product, but the appreciative smiles from each individual they served.

“It’s great we can do this for them, because they’ve done so much for us,” freshman Macie McDaniel said.

Vermilion High School’s social studies department hosted its free Veterans Day luncheon Tuesday at the district’s board of education office.

The 15th annual event has grown substantially since its first attempt years ago, when only about a dozen veterans gathered in the Vermilion High School library. They talked with small groups of students at round tables.

Ed Ziemke, a World War II veteran and a retired Vermilion Schools teacher, has faithfully attended each gathering.

Ziemke was drafted into war at age 18, he said — not much older than the students who coordinated Tuesday’s luncheon. He received two Purple Hearts.

“I think it’s really nice that students and teachers still take the time to think about the military and what veterans have done for our country,” Ziemke said. “Us here, we’re the lucky ones. We’re honoring those who sacrificed it all.”

Teacher Kristy Edmison helps coordinate the luncheon each year with her freshman honors social studies classes, which include almost 40 students this year.

“For many students, this is one of the most important service projects they’ve been a part of,” Edmison said. “It’s a great learning experience for them, and maybe the first opportunity they’ve had to connect with and learn from veterans. It’s our way to show how much we appreciate them.”

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