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Greencastle-Antrim High School honors veterans at assembly

November 11, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Linda Heinrich of Hagerstown was the guest speaker at Friday's Veterans Day assembly at Greencastle-Antrim High School. Heinrich is the author of "Jason's Helmet," the true story of her uncle's World War II helmet's journey home.
By Roxann Miller

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — When 16-year-old Greencastle Blue Devil Aaron Tresler walks onto the football field, he's a typical hard-nosed, tough lineman. But, when it comes to remembering the men and women of the military, he wears his emotions on his sleeve.

During Friday's assembly at Greencastle-Antrim High School, he unapologetically wiped tears from his eyes.

"I realize the sacrifices that all those guys made, and the loss of life; I think about that all the time," the junior said.

He plans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation.

"People don't realize the importance of veterans," Tresler said.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Burkett sat in the fourth row of the auditorium, beside Tresler.

"I think having an assembly and having actual real stories takes it into your heart more, because you hear real stories — you aren't just reading it or hearing it second-hand," Burkett said.

Greencastle-Antrim is one of a handful of local schools to hold class on Veterans Day.

Principal Edward Rife said the school has been observing Veterans Day, as well as Martin Luther King Day, with assemblies for the past several years.

"It (Veterans Day assembly) has created a way for us, as a school, to honor those in the community who have served," Rife said. "What a lesson it is for our students about the sacrifices they have given to our country."

Guest speaker Linda (Barron) Heinrich, 64, of Hagerstown told the students about her uncle, Jason Barron, who is the subject of her book, "Jason's Helmet."

The book documents the true story of the journey home of her uncle's World War II helmet from the Normandy battlefield.

Her uncle, along with five others, paid the ultimate sacrifice in France. But, Heinrich not only penned a book about the 24-year-old Frenchman's quest to deliver Jason's helmet to his family, but she also tells the story of veterans to as many people as she can.

"Our kids don't know the history. I love my country. I love America," she said. "I grew up in a time when a lot of pride was shown for our country. Times have changed a lot. Patriotism is not emphasized now the way it once was."

World War II veteran William Benson, 88, of State Line, Pa., attended the assembly.

As he stood outside the school auditorium, 16-year-old Logan Zehrung walked up to Benson with one goal — to thank him.

"Thank you for serving," Zehrung said to Benson, who fought the emotions he felt.

Benson said he saw a lot of horror while serving in the Navy from 1941 to 1945, but nothing prepared him for gratitude.

"Hearing a simple thank you makes you feel good," said Benson, as tears welled up in his eyes.

Greencastle also remembered the men and women of the U.S. armed forces with an outdoor ceremony at the borough hall on Friday.

About 100 people bundled up against the wind and cold to pay tribute to America's veterans.

Guest speaker Ben Thomas, Jr., said it is the country's veterans who make Greencastle strong.

"Thank you veterans for strengthening this community," he said.

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