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History center to expand Veterans Day program to include in-school visits
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Area students may not have to leave their classroom seats this Veterans Day to see and hear living history.

The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University is working to organize veteran visits to area schools as part of its weeklong celebration of Veterans Day, which falls on Nov. 11.

"As for those of you that have done this in the past, you can attest to exactly how rewarding these moments are," said Scott Ballard, a Gainesville businessman and history center volunteer helping to lead the effort.

As it did last year, the center still will feature military displays and memorabilia that week, as well as open up its Freedom Garden, an area devoted to remembering all veterans with names etched on granite monuments.

Ballard and Bill Dean, a history center board of directors member, are organizing the event, trying to match up veterans with schools. They also are looking for veterans to help in the history center with tours and providing other helpful information.

"We all lead busy lives, but this will be one opportunity you will have this fall to have your own personal outreach to our local youngsters," Ballard said in an e-mail to veteran group leaders and others.

"Please save some time this fall to join us as we assist our local educators in providing a more in-depth and personal history of Veterans Day."

Last year, the history center was able to get area veterans groups together at the same time, a rare feat as they "are competing organizations for membership," Ballard said.

"I was personally disappointed because, even though all of the groups were there, we didn't have a whole lot of people come in," he said.

That inspired Ballard and Dean to work together to "take history to the schools versus waiting for the school to come to (the center)."

Ballard talked about Veterans Day plans to teachers gathered Monday for an open house at the history center.

"So many of them just didn't realize the amount of resources not only in the history center but what's available to them via the history center," he said.

Ballard said he told one teacher, "How often does a student, in a very clinical setting at school, have an opportunity to talk to somebody who was there when history was being made? Not a reader or student of history but someone ... who participated in history."

Dean said he believes that such interaction "is what's needed on Veterans Day."

He said he brought two World War II veterans to the history center for a photo session involving his Jeep while Civil War camps were going on at the center. While waiting for the photographer, they went inside where about 25 children were gathered.

After a while, Dean introduced the men to the children as war heroes.

"When I finished, there was a spontaneous applause that came out of those kids. It took my heart away," he said.


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