Learning about veterans is good; learning from them is better

BEAVERTON, Ore. - It's one thing to honor those who've served our country. It's quite another to actually learn from them.

That's what staff members at St. Stephen's Academy wanted for students on Veterans Day - for students to have a deeper understanding of the holiday.

Despite the fact some school assemblies can be boring, school staff figured a Veterans Day assembly would be the perfect way to reach students.

They safely assumed the chosen speaker would command attention. Boredom isn't an option when the man standing in front of you talks about bombs falling all around him at Pearl Harbor.

"Beyond scared," Bob Westerberg said. "There's got to be another word. I was petrified."

Westerberg was a sailor stationed aboard the USS Nevada. He said he'll never forget what happened that December morning, so he figures he should share the story while he's still around.

"I learned that you do your job even as petrified as you are and as frightened as you are," Westerberg said. "Believe me, everybody was frightened."

His memories are clear and he often tells the story with humor.

"Did I learn anything?" Westerberg responded when asked a question by a student. "Well, get out of harm's way."

It's a response followed by a chuckle. It all seems to resonate with students.

"When you hear what he went through personally, it can start to seem a little bit more real even than you can see in the movies," said Brandt Bergeron, a student at St. Stephen's.

When it's more real, it can mean more. That's exactly what the staff hoped for.

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