Soldiers share their stories

Samantha Slattery and Nina Areyan

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On November 9th, Shore Regional held their annual Veterans Day celebration. We were fortunate enough to view the presentation given by war heroes Joe Foster, Bob and Derek Mussari, and Matt Horn, who discussed their experiences in the line of duty. Spanning from times in Vietnam to current service, the audience was educated on all types of war.  

Starting with Derek Mussari, each man shared details about his time as a soldier. Derek Mussari spoke about his time serving in the Marine Corp for 8 years and Iraq 2003. He currently resides in Jackson as a police officer of eleven years. His father, Bob Mussari, chimed in with his war story and battle wounds. He expressed, with passion, the time when he was wounded in the trenches during Vietnam. He added that even after having his intestines on his lap, he returned to service because “that’s what Marines do.”

To follow, Joe Foster told the students about his time in Vietnam, having a vastly different experience than Bob, which was a major theme among the veterans. Last, but not least, Matt Horn recalled his time in upstate New York, finally touching about something more recent, September 11th, 2001.

Both Matt Horn and Derek Mussari were deployed following the terrorist attacks on New York City. They each told different tales, but both expressed that the atmosphere changed from town to town; sometimes they were greeted with children wanting candy, and other times they would meet a cleared out street. The American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were meet with varied emotions, which was supported by Joe Foster and Bob Mussari’s experiences years prior in Vietnam.

Another thing that was shared with the students was the idea of “taking it with a grain of salt.” Generalizations, we were told, are almost never accurate. Even listening to just four veterans, it was clear each soldier had a different experience, whether it be in the early 2000s or the 1960s. This was a major take away for many students.

Finally, Shore Regional history teacher, Mr. Ker, asked each veteran if they would return to where they served, and each of them said that they would like to see the countries they fought in as citizens rather than soldiers. Joe Foster and Bob Mussari expressed an urge to go back to Vietnam and Derek Mussari and Matt Horn said that in a few years they would be open to returning to the Middle East. It’s easy to forget the time that veterans spent in other places, and it was a part of their lives. To quote Joe Foster, “History is something we learn in school, but if you have a chance to live it, you have a chance to make it.”

The experience was eye opening, as well as educational, and most students said they would like to have the Veteran’s Day celebration at Shore Regional again next year. As high school students it is important to honor all adults, but on one special day, it’s nice to celebrate those who allow us to live in our amazing country, the United States. We thank all our veterans for coming to our school, and telling us a little about their time at war.

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