Four Heroes of Vietnam
A recent unit in Global class taught ninth grade students about four soldiers from the South Seneca region who died while serving in the Vietnam War.
The unit is scheduled to correspond with Memorial Day and is intended not only to enlighten students about Vietnam and some local history, but also serve as a reminder of the meaning behind the holiday.
Global instructor Joe Brewer prepared a series of posters detailing the four men who all went to high school in the area that now makes up the South Seneca Central School District. The soldiers were Bruce Manning from Ovid, John Lilla from Willard, Ross Bedient from Valois and Marvin Jones from Interlaken.
An activity framed as a scavenger hunt guided the participating students to find information about the soldiers, including details about their lives as students, the sports they played and when and how they died.
“Through this remembrance and honoring of the four former Interlaken and Ovid students KIA in Vietnam we will be spending time taking a glimpse at their lives,” Mr. Brewer said. “It’s a chance to help us walk in their shoes in the same hallways we walk through, sit in the same classrooms, participate in the same extracurricular activities and live in the same communities.”
The focus on individuals who grew up and attended school in the same area connects students to historical events that could otherwise feel distant, especially when they learn that these soldiers were not much older than they are now.
Also visiting the class as an honored guest was Brewer’s cousin, Vernon Brewer, himself a Vietnam veteran. Vernon Brewer, a Purple Heart recipient served in the Army as a member of the storied 173rd Airborne Division. He was able to share some of his stories and personal insights as someone who experienced the Vietnam War first hand. Vernon has for many years been actively engaged in advocating and organizing support groups and recognition for regional Vietnam War veterans.