Carol Stream, Ill. -- November 18, 2013 -- Powerful. Impacting. Outstanding. Daryl Fitts, Ed. D., used these words to describe the Veterans Day program at Wheaton Warrenville South High School on Monday, Nov. 11.
In a note to Windsor Park resident Ray Smith, Fitts, the school's social studies department chair, commended Smith and his fellow Windsor Park residents for the presentations they gave.
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"The response of the students and teachers was outstanding and I know that you have impacted a whole new generation," Fitts wrote. "I will always remember this day for the rest of my life and as I talked with students in class today, they will remember it as well."
When asked by Fitts to help find veterans to speak at the program, Wheaton College turned to Ray Smith, a resident of Windsor Park, a Covenant Retirement Community in Carol Stream. Smith, who previously served on the news bureau staff of Wheaton College, knew there were plenty of worthy speakers at Windsor Park.
Nine residents agreed to present their stories to the students. Six were World War II veterans, two were Korean War era, and one, Col. Wallace Alcorn, served as a chaplain during both World War II and the Korean War.
World War II veteran Richard Rung, a crewmember onboard a Landing Craft, Tank (LCT) during the first wave at Omaha Beach; told about the fierce shelling his unit endured during the D-Day assault on June 6, 1944. Also relaying a unique story was the oldest of the Windsor Park presenters, James McLuskie, 93, who served as a courier for General Walter Bedell Smith throughout France and Germany.
Other World War II veterans speaking were Glenn Heck, Henry Nelson, Paul Geiser, and Ralph Welton. Ray Smith and Bud Knoedler spoke about their service during the Korean War era.
"We were given seven minutes to describe our service and explain what it meant to us," notes Smith. "It wasn't an easy task."
Fitts plans a different Veterans Day program each year. Throughout the eight-period day, all 2,000-plus students viewed a presentation. In addition to the Windsor Park residents, active and retired military personnel represented the Vietnam War era, the Persian Gulf War, and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We here at Wheaton Warrenville South are indebted to your service (as presenters) on Nov. 11, 2013; but more so to your service in the military," added Fitts.
Windsor Park is a faith-based, nationally accredited, not-for-profit continuing care retirement community located at 124 Windsor Park Dr., Carol Steam, Ill. It is administered by Covenant Retirement Communities Inc., a ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church. For more information on Windsor Park, visit www.WindsorParkIllinois.org.