by Alessia Giarracca
I joined 38 of my peers from Bishop Kearney H.S., Bensonhurst, to travel to Washington D.C. for our school’s Wounded Warriors Project. We were led by teachers Patricia Hynes-Farragher and Claire Razza.
Little did we know the impact this trip would have on each one of us.
At Fort Belvoir, we had an opportunity to listen to detailed accounts from various soldiers who had just returned from the war. Their optimism and pride for their country was overwhelming and actually a surprise. These men and women endured various obstacles, yet each soldier was eager to get back into the fight.
The following day we visited the Armed Forces Retirement Home where we met with older wartime veterans. There, we presented the veterans with sweats, pajamas, scarves, blankets, refreshments and other treats which our school and community had collected over the past couple of weeks.
However, what the veterans treasured the most was the time we spent with them and our attentiveness to their stories.
Though years have passed since their last battle, the passion was still very much alive in each one of them. We heard remarkable firsthand accounts about the very same wars that we study in school.
Each student agreed that being able to lend a listening ear and put a smile on their faces was the greatest satisfaction. During our time in Washington D.C., we tried to make the most of our time and even visited monumental memorials honoring all our veterans who fought courageously for our country.
The Wounded Warriors Project was an unforgettable experience. Personally, it opened my eyes to what’s behind the headlines and what takes place once the fighting is over. We all can listen to the current events on the news and read about the previous wars in our textbooks, but I was lucky enough to be able to apply and foster my knowledge by interacting with those who are most effected by these events – the soldiers.
This trip encouraged each of us to reach out to our troops even further.
On Nov. 9, we accompanied the Wounded Warriors and N.Y.C. firefighters at the 9/11 Memorial and afterwards for dinner at Ladder 1.
Bishop Kearney students also showed great support at the Veterans Day Parade, marching proudly behind fire truck 343 in memory of the firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 and in honor of all our veterans.
We continued to show our appreciation on that following Sunday at St. Athanasius Church at a Mass dedicated to Wounded Warrior burn victims. We reached a gratifying realization knowing that we can still give back to our troops within our community.
The experience taught us that in order to make a difference all you need is a listening ear, a lending hand, and a loving heart.