David Silverman was 18 years old in 1940 when he enlisted in the Army.
They’re now 92, and on Wednesday afternoon were special guests during a post-Veterans Day ceremony with the students at Corl Street Elementary school.
Fenstermacher and Silverman were invited by first-grade teacher Patricia Shoffner, who organized the annual event, and were among other veterans honored.
The Veterans Day assembly was started in 2010 with four veterans and grew to 19 veterans this year, with patriotic choral and band performances by the Corl Street and State College Area High School brass ensembles.
“I felt the need for kids to know and understand Veterans Day and show their patriotism,” Shoffner said. “I feel very strongly about helping kids understand what Veterans Day means in a way that they can absorb the information and interact with veterans.”
Shoffner addressed about 250 students by giving them a brief lesson on the history of Veterans Day. She then asked students to stand up when their names were called, and listed the veterans in their families.
About half of the students have relatives who served in the armed forces.
Throughout the week during class time, the students made cards that were given to the veterans during the ceremony and sent to soldiers overseas, Shoffner said.
When Fenstermacher showcased four medallions she received during her time as an Army sergeant and in the 3rd Women’s Army Corps Company, some of the students said it showed the impact she had in her position.
“It’s really cool because it shows how important their job was in serving in the military and that they did a really good job at it,” fourth-grader Hayden Cunningham said.
Hayden, 9, has at least three family members who were in the military, including both of his grandfathers and his uncle Ryan Cunningham, who lives in Michigan.
“I’m really proud of my family and the other people who serve,” Hayden said. “They go and serve to help our country and keep us safe, so we return the favor by thanking them for what they do.”
Fifth-grader Nika Kello said she has about six family members who served, including her grandfather, John Kello.
“It’s a way to honor them and keep the memory alive for those who aren’t alive anymore,” Nika, 10, said. “It’s really important because they see our respect for them and our thanks for the people who volunteered to fight for us.”
Silverman said he spent five years in multiple countries during World War II, where he saw combat, and said it meant a lot to him that people appreciate what he did.
“I’m very happy,” Silverman said. “I’ve been invited to Corl Street each year, and it’s humbling that they recognize us.”
The assembly was also part of the school’s PAWS program — practice kindness, act responsible, work hard and show respect.
“This is letting them show respect,” Shoffner said. “We make it a habit to practice PAWS every day, and the assembly is the perfect example of how they show respect for the veterans.”