Bronxville High School juniors, who are exploring major turning points in the history of the United States, welcomed veterans Michael Fix and Vito Pinto to their school to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Fix and Pinto, who are both veterans of the Vietnam War, visited each U.S. History and Advanced Placement U.S. History class on Dec. 6 and 11 to discuss the reasons behind the attack, as well as the economic, political and social implications of the conflict. During the history lessons, the students watched video footage from the war and a clip from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech to Congress, during which he called the date of the attack – which forced the United States into World War II – “a date which will live in infamy.” They also paid tribute to the soldiers who fought and died in the war and urged the students to remember the lessons learned and not let history repeat itself.
“It makes us truly appreciate what we’re learning about and how significant it is,” said junior Teddy Donohue, who heard from Michael Fix during his Advanced Placement U.S. History class. “We need to respect what happened and we need to learn from what happened in history for it not to repeat itself.”
While most students will study in-depth the attack on Pearl Harbor as part of their history classes in the spring, teacher William Meyer said the veterans’ visit sparked the students’ interest in the topic.
“Both speakers gave a face to this conflict and moment at the beginning of World War II, which can sometimes be depersonalized, and is remembered, but not always remembered for the individual lives that were impacted by it,” Meyer said. “What was also powerful was the larger scope and sequence that was presented around the whole conflict in the Pacific, and it gave students something tangible to connect to, not just now but when we get to that unit later in the year.”
Junior Jack Moore said he could relate to Fix, who was too young to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, to his own experiences in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
“It’s interesting to think about how that event for him and people his age is really similar to 9/11 for me,” Moore said. “I wasn’t born when [Sept. 11] happened, I was born a little bit afterwards, so it’s interesting that I live in a world that’s so profoundly affected by that event, but it’s an event that I never got to witness. Likewise, that’s the exact same experience that he had with Pearl Harbor and basically living through World War II and growing up in America that’s obviously very influenced by the events of World War II.”
In conclusion to their presentations, Fix and Pinto shared with the students bookmarks that contained two quotes about the lessons they hoped they could take away – learn from the lessons in history and emulate your nation’s heroes.