Every month, Harbor House gets a small check from a World War II veteran with a note saying that he's sorry he can't give more, but he's on a fixed income. He adds that he's praying for us and wishes us the best.
We invited Gene to come talk to our older students and, much to our excitement, he accepted. He told the kids about being a paratrooper jumping out of a plane into France on D-Day. Although they have little knowledge of World War II, they got the idea of what he was telling them and asked questions like if he was scared, if he missed his family, and if he knew people who died (his answer was yes to all three questions). He showed them a piece of his parachute, which he had kept, and pointed out the bullet hole in it.
The kids saw a picture of American soldiers that had captured a Nazi flag and recognized the symbol on it immediately. Although they had very little idea of what the Nazi party actually was, they knew that the symbol on the flag was a symbol of hatred and racism and they asked about that. Gene explained to them that there is no glory in war but that it was necessary to stop a greater evil.
Gene didn't tell us how old he was, but most of these kids' grandparents weren't old enough to be in World War II. It was an invaluable experience for them to be able to talk to Gene and find out about his, and our country's, history.