Local Vietnam Vets Bring History to Life for St. Charles North Students
Updated: Feb 11
Vets visited the school Jan. 23 ST. CHARLES – Vietnam War veteran Mike Pikulyk wanted to give St. Charles North High School students a glimpse of what fighting in a war was like."After we went out to the jungle, we spent about two to three weeks out there," Pikulyk said, in talking to a group of students on Thursday. "We are walking around, trying to get into a fight. We need to try to find them or they find us. So hopefully we're more prepared than they are."Pikulyk and fellow Vietnam War veterans Duane Buttell, Jr., Dennis Larson and Richard Zawislak shared their experiences with the Modern American History students during several presentations.
[Sandy Bressner - email@example.com][Navy veteran Richard Zawislak talks with St. Charles North High School juniors (from left) Ashley Czerniak, Frances Encisa and Abigail Fruzyna following a presentation by Zawislak and other veterans of the Vietnam War. The veterans discussed their experiences during the war to Modern American History students at the school.]"We wanted to bring veterans in to kind of give a picture to students," said St. Charles North Modern American History teacher and instructional coach Monica Boehle, who organized it. "They read the stories, they watch the videos in class, but they don't always recognize the human part of it. Here are people who lived through it."
[Sandy Bressner - firstname.lastname@example.org][Modern American History students at St. Charles North High School listen as veterans discuss their experiences during the Vietnam War.]Having the veterans speak to the students also "makes it feel real and relevant and not like ancient history," Boehle said.This is the second year the teachers have hosted the event.
[Sandy Bressner - email@example.com][U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dennis Larson talks about his experiences during the Vietnam War to Modern American history students at St. Charles North High School.]For St. Charles North junior Moises Mercado, listening to the veterans was like having a history book come to life."I'm not a reader type of person," he said. "I have to hear it or see pictures about it so I can kind of learn it. It helped me to understand what we are talking about in class."
[Sandy Bressner - firstname.lastname@example.org][Army veteran Mike Pikulyk talks about his experiences during the Vietnam War to Modern American history students at St. Charles North High School.]Zawislak is the senior vice commander of the St. Charles VFW and the commander of the St. Charles American Legion Post 342. The two organizations are housed in the St. Charles Veterans Center along with other veteran organizations.Speaking to the students is just one way the veterans strive to connect to the community.
[Sandy Bressner - email@example.com][U.S. Navy veteran Richard Zawislak (second from left) talks about his experiences during the Vietnam War to Modern American history students as veterans (from left) Duane Buttell, Jr., U.S. Air Force, Dennis Larson, U.S. Marine Corps, and Mike Pikulyk, U.S. Army, look on at St. Charles North High School.]"Our main goal is to support one another and our second goal is for the community to know we exist and what we do," Zawislak said.Some of what they do include taking care of sick veterans and taking veterans on paddlewheel boat rides on the Fox River.