As more than a hundred veterans and eyewitnesses arrived at the doors of Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly it proved that this was going to be another successful oral history day.
Now in its 19th year, I Witness to History Day started as an oral history event called “The Latest Generation Meets the Greatest Generation” later being changed to IWitness to History Day, this momentous event held at the middle school places the spotlight on the eyewitnesses of historic speeches to veterans of devastating wars to the people who viewed the horrible 9/11 attacks.
With the whole school participating in this event, presentations throughout the day, as well as group interviews with these eyewitnesses, the day has grown to become a symbolization of remembrance for the events that shaped our nation. Being one of the only schools in Virginia who holds this event, Rocky Run stepped up to the challenge and was truly able to change the perspectives of not only the students listening to those who volunteered, but to every person who took the time to listen.
Talking with John Sullivan, Vietnam War veteran, about what this event does to him replied, “I come through that gym and I still get chills… I was a Vietnam War veteran and we didn’t get this welcome, it’s truly heartwarming. “
Though the theme this year for the students was gratitude, it was the veterans who were truly happy to be here. “We’re so fortunate to be born here… have a sense of service, a sense of giving back,” said Mark Felder, Army Corporate.
As these eyewitnesses reflected on what it meant to give back it was evident in every word they spoke that they felt as honored to be here as the students did to be in their presence.
Seventh-grader Jessica Davis said when commenting on IWitness, “It’s an amazing experience.” She loved getting to hear the volunteer’s stories, what they had gained from the journey they embarked on.
As the day came to a close the memories, lives, and stories told through the course of this event touched the minds and hearts of students, staff, and fellow eyewitnesses to listened, making everyone feel truly grateful.