Living History Day returns

By Jessica Todd


North Central High School hosted its annual Living History Day April 26. The event had been on a three-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forty-one U.S. military veterans shared their stories with students. Ten of the veterans were from Hoosier Village Senior Living Community at 9891 Purple Plum Lane, Zionsville.

“The veterans divided amongst small tables throughout the day, where they told students about their military experience,” said Ron May, chaplain of Hoosier Village.

Living History Day began 18 years ago. Since then, Chris Vermillion, the social studies department chair at North Central High School, has worked to enhance the event each year.

“This event was started by a former librarian and social studies department chair,” Vermillion said. “The librarian’s dad was a World War II veteran, and she noticed that he and some friends did not have an outlet to share their experiences.”

Vermillion said Living History Day honors veterans who sacrificed so much for the freedom of others while giving sophomore U.S. history students a chance to see significant historical events through someone else’s eyes.

“Since our students have grown up without major U.S. wars or conflicts, it is natural that they would not fully understand the price our veterans have paid,” Vermillion said.

The 10 participants from Hoosier Village were all Vietnam War-era veterans.

Veterans who attended from Hoosier Village were John Bellinger, Don Bievenour, Richard Cohee, William “Bill” Dunbar, Al Grayson, Jerry Klavon, Regis Kline, Don Murdoch, Tom Schemmel and Rick Wheeler.

Kline served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1972 and enrolled in Officer’s Candidate School. He did a tour of duty in South Korea as a first lieutenant.

“I enjoyed meeting the sophomores and answering their questions, because most had no clue what the Army did,” Kline said.

Bellinger served in the U.S. Navy and was as an officer in the Naval Civil Engineering Corps.

“I was able to talk about my life through that period and how life was much different from today, especially for a young male U.S. citizen,” Bellinger said.

Wheeler served in the Army from March 1970 to November 1971.

“I liked having the opportunity to interact with mature high school students and bring a voice and perspective to a subject they have studied in class,” Wheeler said.

Schemmel served in Vietnam as a military advisor from January to December 1963 as part of a small special force sent by President John F. Kennedy.

“The students were most interested in the part of history leading to the war,” Schemmel said.

Murdoch served in the U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1993.

“I liked interacting with the students,” Murdoch said.

Cohee served in the Army from 1969 to 1971. “I think the students were glad to hear my story about serving at Headquarters Company at Ft. Benjamin Harrison,” Cohee said.

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