OSWEGO, NY – Four Oswego High School teachers have served the nation through service in the military.
Recently, in honor of VeteranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day, the OHS Student Government decided to recognize faculty members.
Senior Class Vice President Eli Tyler said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We felt that it was very important to show the veterans that we appreciated what they did for us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Student Government presented Ã¢â‚¬Å“Challenge CoinsÃ¢â‚¬Â to each veteran.
Junior Class Vice President Morgan Allen echoed the thoughts as she said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We thought it was a good, tangible way of showing our appreciation for people who have served.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Social studies teachers Ted Nalle and Ben Richardson were recognized along with science teacher Tom Altman and English teacher Isaac Kain.
Altman was genuinely touched by the presentation.
He said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is the most significant thing that any student has ever done for me in my life. This is very impressive.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Altman is one of thousands of Vietnam veterans.
He said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ted and I were in the Vietnam War. Ted was in-country for three tours of duty and I was at a radar base. This is the first time anyone has ever said, to me, thank you for service.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Ã¢â‚¬Å“Challenge CoinsÃ¢â‚¬Â are solid bronze and were created by a well-to-do lieutenant for every member of his squadron as a token of their service together.
Legend has it that one pilot placed a coin in a pouch worn around his neck.
That pilot was captured by the Germans during World War II when he was forced to land behind enemy lines due to a damaged aircraft.
During the transport to a Prisoner of War Camp, he was able to escape.
When a group of French resistance fighters found the pilot, he offered his military Challenge Coin as proof that he was an American and it saved his life.
Once the pilot returned to his squadron they each agreed to carry the challenge coins at all times.
Today, the Air Force Challenge Coin tradition has spread to the Marines, Army, Coast Guard and Navy.
Challenge Coins now enforce solidarity and hold unit members to a certain standard.
Those challenged to produce their coins must do so immediately.
The honor even reaches to the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s highest office.
President Bill Clinton had several military challenge coins on display and President George W. Bush received a Marines challenge coin from a patrol in Iraq.
Altman noted that fellow teacher Ben Richardson gave these coins to men under his command in Afghanistan.
He said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“When BenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s men were deployed he gave them a coin and he had gotten a bolt from the World Trade Center and had it sliced into pieces that were welded into the coin so each one he gave out had a piece of the Twin Towers in it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Richardson was glad to receive the recognition from the high school students, but noted, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is one of the first times that the kids have actually done something for the veterans here at the Oswego High School. It is especially great for some of our older veterans who otherwise havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been recognized. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had my share of recognition because I have been in the news in the warfare we are currently involved with now. This is the first time we have had all the veterans recognized.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Nalle was appreciative of the recognition.
However, he noted, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always rewarding to be recognized. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel recognition is necessary. I simply did what many of my generation did.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Oswego High School student government wanted to do something special for the teachers who were United States military veterans.
Thanks to a father of one of the students suggesting this special endeavor, the teachers will have a life-long memory and memento.