HARROD — The latest teaching tool at Allen East isn’t a new whiteboard or tablet. It’s a wooden board installed in the corner of the school’s common area and decorated with 24 names of those, from the area, who gave their lives for their country.
At a dedication ceremony Friday afternoon, Allen East Superintendent Mel Rentschler explained the idea behind the new monument.
“What’s the purpose of this wall?” Rentschler said. “As an educator, your goal is to teach students, and we teach them how to read and write and to be good citizens, but we need to teach the future generations that there is a cost to freedom.”
Rentschler had undertaken the project two years ago when, with the help of the Allen County Veterans Memorial Foundation, he began to research the lives of Allen County residents who had died “with the uniform on.”
In the end, Rentschler found 24 names of residents from the area who had been killed in the line of duty throughout United States history — from the Civil War to today’s War on Terror.
Students from Allen East’s industrial tech classes took the work over from there. Steel plaques with the names of each servicemen were ordered, stenciled and placed on the monument, and above the plaques, the five emblems of each military branch were added.
“To some people, it’s just a board with names on it. To others, it honors their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice,” sophomore Caitlyn Musselman said. She and her classmates had painted the emblems of each branch that were used on the monument.
The final addition to the monument were two cabinets furnished with photos of area residents who are currently serving in the military. Rentschler said he wanted to create a “living monument” to the military, and he invites any families from the area with relations in the military to reach out so the school can add their family members to the monument.
Following the dedication, veterans from the area who attended the dedication were honored at a veterans tribute in the school gym.
Similar events were planned throughout the region in honor of Veterans Day. For example, at Elida Middle School, Maj. Tangela Robinson with Joint Systems Manufacturing Center spoke during a Veterans Day Recognition Ceremony held in the school’s gymnasium. At Temple Christian, the school hosted a Veterans Day program with Iraq War veteran Sgt. Jessica Green speaking, and in Bluffon, a class detailing how to honor the American flag was taught to fourth graders.
“I think this board was a great way to honor those that passed,” Allen East sophomore Madie Treglia said. “They aren’t just names, but they’re someone’s brother or sister.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.