A Reward for Veterans


Flyer for Mendham’s Feed the Heroes Event

Lindsay Kupka, Staff Writer

Every year, juniors at Mendham High School read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. The Things They Carried is a connected list of short stories that O’Brien has put together to explore the power of storytelling and how to tell a true war story. The Things They Carried is based on O’Brien’s experiences as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division and his collection of short stories follows the lives of the men of the Alpha Company during the Vietnam War, and their struggles to adapt to life back home afterward. 

Students at Mendham reading The Things They Carried are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice that veterans make for the United States.  During this unit, students discuss the hardships many veterans face once they come home from war. Among these struggles are PTSD, getting a job, or even finding a safe place to live which they can afford. The Things They Carried unit includes presentations from former US veterans like Mendham’s own SRO, Officer Boll, and Bob Johnson, who talk about the importance of supporting the troops. During Bob Johnson’s retelling of his military service, he emphasized how crucial it was to remember that the soldiers are fighting for our country and no matter how much we disagree with why we are fighting, it is important to respect the sacrifice of veterans and help them whenever we can. Mendham High School’s SRO, Michael Boll, also gave a presentation on his charity which he founded, the New Jersey Veterans Network, which has completed amazing work for veterans since its establishment in 2017. 

no matter how much we disagree with why we are fighting, it is important to respect the sacrifice of veterans and help them whenever we can.”

— Bob Johnson

The unit culminates in an event called Feed the Heroes on February 28th, 2020, where Mendham students will serve free dinner to veterans as a way to say thank you and express their full appreciation for the veterans of the United States. At this event, students will have the opportunity to talk and get to know the veterans who have sacrificed so much for the country, now with a greater understanding after reading The Things They Carried. After listening to a panel of veterans speak, attendees will sit down and eat dinner with all of the veterans and hear their stories. The event is an amazing way to showcase the gratitude we feel for the soldiers who have fought for us as proud citizens of the United States. 

Students are welcome to invite any veteran who has served to attend the Feed the Heroes event. Students and others can also purchase tickets to attend the event for $5 each. A ticket includes admission to hear the veterans speak on a panel and dinner and dessert donated from our community’s families and restaurants. Tickets will be on sale Monday 2/24 through Thursday 2/27 during lunch or you can see one of the following English teachers: Mrs. Columbro, Mrs. Feury, Mrs. Pereira, Ms. Rosone, Mrs. Shannon, or Ms. Viola. All proceeds will go to the NJ Veterans Network. 

Photo courtesy of History.com
Photo courtesy of Laney.Edu
Photo courtesy of NJ Veterans Network