Students in AP Literature and Composition recently completed the first portion of an outside reading unit on contemporary war literature. This portion of the unit required students to choose a novel of interest to them, one that addresses the issues soldiers face in the experiences leading up to, during, and after war. As part of this on-going assignment, students were encouraged to interview a veteran, a soldier, or a member of a soldier's family to learn more about these experiences through direct sources. Many students sought out these individuals on their own, but in order to make the opportunity more accessible to all students, the Burlington Office of Veterans' Services helped immensely. Director of Veterans' Services, Chris Hanafin, organized a classroom visit with Vietnam veteran and Burlington resident, Fred Shine in order to make the literature students were reading much more vital and realistic.
Yesterday, Shine spoke to five different classes of students about the work he does to ensure that his friends, soldiers who gave their lives fighting in Vietnam, are remembered. Shine worked persistently for years to raise funds for, create, and dedicate monuments to these fallen soldiers, these heroes. By sharing the stories of these mens' lives and deaths with students yesterday, Shine continues to honor them, and to help others understand the significance of their sacrifice. Prepared with illustrations (by artist Gina Johnson) and photos of the men he spoke of, as well as physical representations of his own experiences in war, Shine shared the things he carried through Vietnam, as well as the things he carries still today: love, camaraderie, guilt, honor, and truth.
Shine, who speaks at many schools about these experiences, talks about this work as both "therapeutic" and "essential." His message of honor and encouragement certainly inspired BHS students yesterday.
For more information about Shine's work, check out these articles: