EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — For freshman New Tech Institute student Ethan Shopmeyer, Wednesday morning’s history lesson went far deeper than a learning experience.
“My great-uncle died on Iwo Jima, and the veteran I got to interview, he was actually witness to the battle of iwo Jima,” he said. “It made it very real for me to realize that this guy might have even known my great-uncle.”
“You could learn it from a textbook,” Ernie Griffin, a teacher at New Tech Institute, said. “You could learn it from me teaching it.”
Freshmen at New Tech Institute took a different approach to U.S. history Wednesday afternoon, ditching the textbooks and slideshows for a more personal approach.
“Our students have an opportunity to interview real life combat veterans, and that experience for them isn’t like any other,” Griffin said.
“It really gives you an appreciation of what they’ve done and why we’re the country we are today,” Shopmeyer said.
Students had a chance to interview U.S. military veterans, ranging from World War II to those who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We’re really here today to give them that human picture of what it’s like to be a soldier or airman or a Marine or a sailor that’s been deployed to a combat zone and really make that personal,” Capt. Casey Nunn with the Indiana Army National Guard said.
Nunn, who served in Iraq in 2008, was one of the many soldiers who showed up, hoping to pass on their experience to the younger crowd.
“My generation has an obligation to help them understand the world around them so that they can make better decisions with their own lives,” he said. “You can read it out of a book, but it doesn’t become humanized until you talk to a soldier or serviceman who’s actually been there.”
Teachers said the students will transcribe their interviews with the veterans. The transcripts will then be sent to the Library of Congress to be archived.