Veterans Day is a day of celebration to honor America’s veterans and their willingness to serve in the U.S. military. We also show our own patriotism and love of country. Schools within the Bellevue School District are recognizing Veterans Day in their own unique ways with assemblies and other activities. Across the district, American veterans currently serve in roles from technology to transportation, equity to safety and security – and veterans work in our schools as teachers, counselors, bus drivers and paraeducators and many more. They served in all branches of the military – Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Martin Cordell has been with the district for 15 years and has taught in a variety of classrooms. Currently, he teaches physical education. After he served in the U.S. Army, he attended Western Washington University and utilized the G.I. Bill to earn his degree and certification. He credits the Army with helping him understand the value of hard work and appreciation for working with people from different places and backgrounds. “Serving in the Army helped me to see the world from different perspectives,” Cordell said.
Jason Golec, the executive director of technology for the district, served in the Air Force for eight years. He started supporting mainframe systems and later led a team that managed rapid deployment of everything the Air Force needed to manage operations – from a jungle, barge or other remote location. “Leadership skills are the biggest thing the military teaches you,” according to Golec. “I would do it all again because of all of the skillsets I developed.”
Carolyn Edwards is utilizing the skills she garnered over more than twenty years in the U.S. Army as a counselor at Interlake High School. She served as a victim advocate and a retention non-commissioned officer, which works to retain soldiers by finding them opportunities for professional development, school and different duty stations – education and career counseling in a unique way. Edwards earned her associate degree and then a bachelor’s degree in psychology while serving and then went on to earn a counseling psychology master’s degree and school counseling certification. “I feel like the military taught me patience and it taught me teamwork and collaboration,” said Edwards. Her experience working with a diverse group of people was also very helpful. She utilizes those and more working with students and staff at Interlake. Overall, the Army was a great experience. “I loved the camaraderie we experienced as soldiers,” she says. “It is a true family – everybody working together to accomplish a mission.” Edwards experienced more than five duty stations and deployed three separate times to Iraq. “I’ve seen veterans who have sacrificed a lot – they did it proudly,” she said.
Our Safety and Security department is fortunate to have two U.S. Army veterans on staff in Nick Jacobson and Shane Williams. One of the many undertakings for the safety team is training students about emergencies. Jacobson translates some of the skills he learned through military training into service and education initiatives. “Hearing directly from students after one of my trainings that they feel my training has empowered them to face adversity and make the best decisions that they can when disasters strike is among the most rewarding and humbling experiences I have ever had,” says Jacobson. “It is truly an honor to be in a position to give our students peace of mind.”
We can trace the history of Veterans Day back to World War I – sometimes referred to as “The Great War.” It ended on June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. However, fighting had stopped seven months earlier. An armistice between Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The next year, President Woodrow Wilson commemorated Nov. 11 with a proclamation. It wasn’t until 1938 when Congress dedicated the day to world peace that it became an annual legal holiday marked to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954, after Americans fought in Korea and after World War II required the greatest mobilization of U.S. armed forces the nation had experienced, the law was amended, and Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Learn more about the history of Veterans Day from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Service to the U.S. is something that many veterans are very proud. “I always felt I had a duty to serve my country, this duty includes making many sacrifices,” says Shane Williams. “As a veteran, Veterans Day to me is a day that we come together to honor those who have served and are still living.”