Veterans Day change prompts controversial conversations

Sam Bull, Editor-in-Chief

Veterans Day 2019 has brewed controversy at DGN, as, this year, there was not an assembly and entire day dedicated to those who served our country. Despite misconceptions regarding the motive of the change, the argument of how well military personnel are honored at DGN remains up for debate.

Up until last year at DGN, every Veterans Day would feature an assembly in the morning, along with classroom visits from veterans for the rest of the day. 

A new system was established two years ago that would alternate years between the assembly and classroom visits, beginning with just the assembly last November. The non-assembly years, including this year, have veterans come in for three periods during the day to social studies classrooms and the library to share their experiences.

DGN Student Activities Director Mark Mirandola explained the change is in no way aimed to under-represent veterans or military personnel.

“By no means are we trying to take away any recognition of our veterans. I think a lot of people take [the change] and they begin to draw this conclusion that we are not recognizing our veterans anymore. That’s not the case at all; there’s more to the story. We want to celebrate them.”

Mirandola mentioned how the intricate planning involved in the assembly was taking away from other aspects of teaching for the few social studies teacher that the planning fell upon.

Mirandola additionally talked about how Veterans Day is extremely important to the student body and that the change allows DGN staff to plan more efficiently. 

“There’s value in both events. The assembly is more of recognition and celebration of our veterans, and the classroom visits are more of the first-hand experience, learning history, being able to ask questions,” Mirandola said.

“We definitely want students to have both of those experiences, but those experiences are just going to have to be in alternating years. So, when we do the assembly, we can focus all of our time on that and do that right. When it’s the years for classroom visits, we can focus our time on that and do that right.”

Apart from the assembly and more focused on graduation, members of the District 99 community argue about how military students are not represented accordingly to their actions. 

During the public comment session of an Oct. 21 District Board Meeting, DGN parent Kathy Reiselt spoke up in defense of this argument.

“We are way, way behind in terms of recognition for these young men and women in the military. In the state of Illinois, there are several schools that let these students wear their chord, or their satchel, or their patch [for graduation],” Reiselt said. 

“We are recognizing our athletes, we are recognizing our academia, and we are not recognizing these young men and women who are willing to lay down their lives for God or country.”

According to an Aug. 9, 2017 article from District 99, graduation recognitions changed from involvement in AVID and NHS on top of academic achievements, to just those academic achievements. Despite these changes, military commits still have no specific recognition.

Mirandola stated that although there is nothing specific for military commits planned yet for this year’s graduation, options will be discussed about how to recognize those students.

Currently, DGN’s website has military information under the College and Career Planning tab, providing contact to recruitment officers in the area and links to websites that provide information about each branch of the military.

However, Private Logan Maramba, a senior at DGN, feels that the school counseling and guidance system is defaultly structured around a future at a four-year university, and that military career options are not often equally represented.

“I think we live in a community that is much more structured around college,” Maramba said. “The school doesn’t trash the military, but they’re just don’t give it the same representation as college.”

This past summer, Maramba completed a 10-week basic training program in Fort Benning, Georgia, and plans to go back after he graduates for another 14 weeks to complete Infantry One Station Unit Training (OSUT).

Despite understanding why those committed to the military might be upset, Maramba explains how his experiences in the military so far have enabled him to look beyond recognition as a reward. 

“It’s a great honor to serve. I understand wanting to do it for recognition. However, I think once you understand more about the military, you can understand why it’s not about being recognized and more about service to your country and doing what you can to protect our country.”