History lesson comes to life through WWII veterans' stories - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

History lesson comes to life through WWII veterans' stories

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- A history lesson came to life when World War II veterans shared their stories at a Wausau middle school on Tuesday. The veterans reached out through the decades to some seventh graders.

Their stories are more than half a century old, but to six veterans, the images of the second world war are as fresh as if they had happened just yesterday.

"The best fireworks I've ever seen in my life was that morning," said WWII veteran Norman McMahon. "In the dark, all those tracer bullets firing out of those guns."

"They're actually telling us in real detail and it's better than just reading it in a book," said 7th grader Faith Pissard. "And you actually get to meet the person and it's like a real live thing."

Seventh grade students at Horace Mann Middle School got to hold remnants from the war in their own hands -- passing around a piece of history.

"I think about how scary it would be to actually be in a war and be so close to being possibly dead after fighting to keep our country free," said 7th grader Steven Martell.

"We have to give the teachers credit for getting us veterans together to relay our experiences to the students here," said WWII veteran Warren Tessmer.

As the years pass, the veterans' stories fade into history. So they share what they remember with a new generation -- one that's only seen the war in movies or books.

"Of course, the Japanese kamikaze pilots were coming in and they would try to shoot you with small ammunition fire," said McMahon. "If they couldn't do that, they'd land and try to hit a ship and disable the ships."

Students said the presentations hit home -- helping them understand the sacrifices these men made decades ago.

"They did a lot of good things for our country, keeping the world free," said Martell.

Those students are also raising money to send a veteran on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. So far, they've collected about $300 -- on their way to their $500 goal.

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