Thankful for Our Veterans

Thankful+for+Our+Veterans

Gabrielle Ostad ’21

32 United States Army veterans of the Samaritan Village filled the fall-theme decorated auditorium for the second annual pre-Thanksgiving meal of gratitude on November 26. The intention of this meal was to thank the veterans for their service. “Veterans deserve a thank you for the work they have done,” said Ms. Benel, Director of Community Outreach and Programming.

The night began with the students greeting the veterans at the door. Students sat with the veterans and learned about the experience of serving the United States on the front lines. The veterans went around the room sharing their names, what units they served in, where they were stationed, their experiences dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and their appreciation for being welcomed into Ramaz. Soldiers shared their unique experiences as infantrymen, Navy SEALs, and air corps. The students were given the opportunity to serve the veterans dinner.

The veterans of the Samaritan Village shared their appreciation for the organization. Samaritan Village is an organization that offers specialized treatments for veterans experiencing PTSD, struggling with substance use, and dealing with other obstacles. Participants in the program have said that living together has made them feel like a family and with a brotherly bond. Caroline Schwartz ‘22 reflected on her personal interactions with the veterans saying, “It was very meaningful being with the soldiers. They told us about their stories, and it showed how much love and commitment they had for our country.” The veterans shared their pre-war and post-war life experiences, including personal information about their families. Schwartz added, “I learned that courage goes hand in hand with being a veteran. Every time these people went to war, they were sacrificing their lives for our freedom.”

The dinner was enhanced by a presentation by the school’s chamber choir who sang “Over The Rainbow,” “Stand By Me,” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” after which the audience gave a standing ovation. Ella Rabani ’21 and Illan Schockit ’21 followed by Kira Berman ‘20 performed as well. 

Although the majority of the dinner attendees were American veterans, Yaron, an Israeli veteran, was also present. Yaron stated, “I think we [American and Israeli veterans] have a very strong bond and a common ground because we both decided to step up and defend our country. We are the same kinds of people, just coming from different countries.” U.S. veteran Derick expressed gratitude for the dinner, “It is a great deed you guys are doing, welcoming us into your world. You guys can choose to be doing many other things, but the fact that you all choose to spend this time with us veterans is so meaningful.” Veteran Gil returned to this dinner for the second time. He said, “I liked last year, so I had to come back this year.” 

In conclusion, students found that spending the eve of the holiday dedicated to giving thanks with the people they feel most thankful for was meaningful.