US History 2 students get a taste of the Korean War

Julia Finkle ('10)/ Eastside Staff

While a textbook can provide a basic understanding of a historical event, scientific theory or mathematical process, the facts do not make up for the entire picture. To extend the knowledge of the Korean War, Ms. Kuhl and Ms. Dolan invited Korean War Veterans to talk US History 2 students.

On Friday, April 3, students crowded into B134 to listen to the experiences of five veterans and generals from the Korean War, who were dressed in full uniform.

The first veteran to speak, Captain Andrew T. Jackson, explained some of the hardships that he had to go through in war when he was drafted at just twenty years old.

I thought I was going to be an accountant,” Jackson said, “but guess where I went… an infantry.”

Jackson explained that although he was content with his lifestyle as an accountant, he left to fight and protect the rights of his country— just as many of the other veterans had done at the time.

Though it was difficult to leave home and make such a drastic change in his lifestyle, Jackson said that he depended on the letters he received from his family and friends to communicate. The letters traveled by “snail mail” and would take about thirty days to reach the recipient of the letter, and another thirty days to get a letter back.

However, the soldiers’ struggle of missing friends and family was trivial compared to the challenges that the veterans endured every day.

In the winter the temperature would reach forty degrees below zero, while the temperature in the summers could reach one hundred and ten degrees.

When on duty, no matter how freezing or hot, the soldiers carried backpacks weighing between 65 to 85 pounds. Everything the soldiers needed to live was carried in the pack or in a belt around their waist.

To help explain how difficult it was to carry the equipment, Jackson and his fellow veterans brought in helmets, a stuffed backpack and a gun belt for the students to try on.

Carrying the belt around her waist, which would have held a rifle, hand grenade, water canteen and first aid kit, Daniella Castro (’10) said that if she were fighting, “[she] would feel like [she] would get frustrated and tired [carrying the pack]. But if it was something [she] needed to do, [she would].”

The soldiers were forced to carry the packs, no matter how much pain they felt.

“It’s all about discipline,” said Jackson. The soldiers did not have a choice to question anything but rather, “[they] did exactly what [they] were told.”

The physical pain, vivid memories and emotional struggles endured by the veterans will never escape their memories.

“Some things we never forget, we just keep them, lock them up, and hope we can move on,” said Jackson.

After the bell rang after the fourty-four minute period, the veterans certainly left an impression on the students. Ending with a personal handshake and a “thank you” to the veterans, the students left the room with a much greater understanding of the Korean War than a textbook could ever provide.