Perhaps there's no greater history lesson than that of war stories recounted by the veterans who lived through them to tell about it.
Indeed, the testimonials shared by several area veterans were enough to send shivers down the spines of Palmerton Area High School students during the annual Veterans Day assembly Friday in the high school auditorium.
Four area veterans spoke from their hearts as they relived the stories of their encounters during wartime. They were: Earl Henning, aviation machinist, 2nd class tail gunner, B24, U.S. Navy, World War II veteran of the Pacific Theatre; Steve Vlossak, U.S. Army; Craig Strohl, a 1998 graduate of Panther Valley High School; and Richard Weaver Sr., master sergeant, U.S. Air Force, retired, who served in Vietnam.
Students were shown a video that depicted various World War II veterans who spoke of their experiences.
Afterward, Henning told the students, "You've just seen a movie, and that's proof that we won the war."
Henning added, "When you went out, you had no idea when you were going to get back. You became immune that you were going to get shot."
"I'm proud to have served in World War II," Henning said. "I was fortunate to get with a squadron whose record was second to none."
Social Studies instructor Paul McArdle thanked the students for their interest, and explained the importance of the contributions made by our veterans.
"They answered the call to duty at your age, and provided you with some of the freedoms you have today," McArdle said.
Vlossak spoke of his tenure in Vietnam, where he was in charge of taking care of the prisoners, and said, "The toughest part about guarding the prisoners is I used to have to take care of the bodies. That was hard. I sort of cut off my emotions. I got numb."
"It bothered me for a few years when I came home," Vlossak said. "Everybody comes home from war with something."
The students also heard from Strohl, who has served in combat zones in Iraq and Algeria, and Weaver, who served in Vietnam from 1968-69.
Samples of various war memorabilia were set up for students to view throughout the assembly as well.