Letters from the past | NevadaAppeal.com

Letters from the past

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Carson Middle School eighth-graders, clockwise from front, Robyn Gowan, Alyssa Brown and Shayna Ruybalidi, all 13, practice folding an American flag in preparation for Thursday's Veterans Day Commemoration program honoring former area military personnel.

Pedro Fuentes spoke in the voice of a 14-year-old Tuesday afternoon, but his words dated back nearly 150 years, to the Civil War.

“I take the pen in hand this evening to write you a few lines,” he said through the words of a man who served in the drum corps of the Union Army, 187th Regiment. “I have so much to say I don’t know what to commence first. The first thing I will let you know about is me being in the drum corps.”

That man’s name was Felix Voltz.

Pedro is one of several students who will read war-written letters at Carson Middle School’s Veterans Day Commemoration, scheduled to begin at 11:10 a.m. Thursday.

Other letters to be read, one each, hail from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the Iraq conflict.

The letter-reading is a new facet to Carson Middle’s annual event.

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“I think it will add a dimension that will be very emotional,” said Lee Elliott, an instructional aide at the school, who encouraged the boys to practice, practice, practice and to infuse feeling in their readings. “One of the guys was at Iwo Jima. He witnessed the flag going up.”

Ben McDonald, 14, will read the letter written by Elliott’s stepson, Gary Adams, who served in the Iraq conflict as a medic at Abu Ghirab prison. Adams writes about an elderly diabetic Iraqi who was wrongfully imprisoned.

The man did not want to leave the prison, Adams writes, because previously he hadn’t received any diabetes medication for five to six months, due to the cost. He was receiving it at the prison.

“He felt better than he had in years,” said Elliott, paraphrasing his son’s words. “And then he says, ‘And I realized that this was the point when I knew what our mission was about. It left us with a different feeling of what the U.S. role was about.'”

Also new to this year’s ceremony is a veterans’ wall, which is based on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. All eighth-graders interviewed a veteran and made a placard with information about the person to hang on the wall.

For Britney Hensley, 13, the project meant a trip to Evergreen at Mountain View retirement home in Carson City, where she met World War II Air Veteran Wesley Mills.

“He got a lot of medals because of what he did,” Britney said. “He jumped out of airplanes, and he helped a lot of people. He’s really interesting. He saw the flag at Iwo Jima go up. He served 12 years in the military.”

The placards will be on display on the wall today through Sunday.

“It was a good experience, and it helps people to know what happened and how (veterans) fought for our freedom,” Britney said of the interview.

To build the wall, students stayed after school several days a week and cut and painted sections. Typically, the schools holds a stake-out and places individual placards all over the field in front of the school.

“I think the kids are doing a very good job,” said math teacher Wade Greenlee, who erected it Tuesday afternoon. “We decided to do something different this year. I though that this was neat.”

n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

If you go:

What: Veterans Day Commemoration program

When: 11:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium. Reception to follow in the library

Where: Carson Middle School, 1140 W. King St.

Who: Open to the public and military veterans

Call: CMS at 283-3800

Memorial wall: Visit the front lawn of the school today-Sunday to see the memorial featuring placards of hundreds of veterans