May 10, 2006 | By: Laura Skillman

Old Mill Elementary fifth-graders have been studying history through their teachers, but recently they had the chance to learn World War II history through the words and pictures of men who had been there.

This was the second time the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in Bullitt County has sponsored and hosted the program which both educates young people and honors veterans for their service.

Jeff Young, Bullitt County Extension agent for 4-H youth development, said the idea originated in Henry County and he learned about it through a sharing session during an Extension meeting. He said the agents thought the idea had potential and took it to their Extension council which latched onto the idea and got the “ball rolling.”

“We are losing several thousand of the World War II generation each day and their stories need to be told,” he said. “The kids need to know what a contribution they’ve made for the freedom we have now. The children love to hear the stories and it’s very educational. Teachers like that it fits in with what they are teaching now.”

Ray Armstrong and Joyce Crigler, Extension council members, were busy volunteering at the day’s event.

“I just thought this was something that we really ought to do,” Crigler said.
Armstrong, a Korean War veteran, said he knew some of the veterans and thought it was a neat idea.

“I felt it would be a good program for Extension to be involved in,” he said. “So many of the veterans are dying so rapidly and it’s a shame we didn’t do this sooner. It’s been a thrill for me, I’ve gotten to call and talk to most of them personally and get them involved. I’ve enjoyed it and I think everyone else has.”

Armstrong said the first event on Dec. 7, 2005, and the most recent one have been very successful. There are plans are for another program and perhaps more on a continuing basis.

About 50 veterans participated in the program including Bob DeVore, who served on a submarine during the war. 

“I think this is something we need to do,” he said. “In a lot of schools they aren’t getting this, I found out from my grand kids. I enjoy it and they ask a lot of interesting questions.”

Marcella Minogue, a fifth grade teacher at Old Mill Elementary, said the fifth grade social studies curriculum is a history curriculum so the World War II event falls right in line with what they are learning in the classroom.

“We did a lot of activities so they would understand - even the vocabulary - so they would understand what the veterans where saying before we got here,” she said. “I think it is wonderful. I’ve enjoyed hearing them speak. I think often times children, and even I, don’t get to really listen and hear what they have to say. I’ve really enjoyed hearing their stories. They (the students) seem to be really absorbing the information. I think it’s wonderful. I think doing this a little bit before testing really enhances what they already know.”

The 14th Armored Re-creations, a Bullitt County group, brought some World War II era equipment to the Extension office for the students to climb on and to learn how it was used. Other equipment used during that era, from helmets to tents, was provided and explained by Rick Dickerson, a Patton Museum volunteer.

Karen Young, curator for education at Patton Museum at nearby Fort Knox, developed the lesson plans for the teachers to use prior to their visit and for a post test. 

“I think this is fabulous,” she said. “I couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of it and I think it is a way to connect kids with living history. They get more out of talking to someone who was there than someone like me, who even though I know my stuff, it’s never going to be as good as the people who were there and lived it.”


Jeff Young, (502) 543-2257