The City of Auburn is proud to call itself home to a long list of distinguished military veterans and works to honor them in many different ways.
Sam Nichols, a chairman of the Veterans Committee in Auburn, is one of many people who work to ensure that people remember and honor those who have served our community and country.
“I think it’s very important for the community, for the civilian community, to recognize veterans,” Nichols said. “And to also recognize there are people who put their lives on the line to protect us, I think it’s vitally important.”
The Auburn Veterans Committee works to plan and host different events that honor veterans, support them and raise funds for scholarships to go toward helping veterans. Funds are also raised to establish and keep up monuments dedicated to different distinguished veterans.
“A couple years ago, we started remembering deceased veterans in our ‘Auburn Heroes Remembered’ on the Auburn website,” Nichols said. “We also administer three scholarships every year, a couple at Auburn and one at Southern Union.”
The committee works to put on a Memorial Day breakfast every year, and also lets citizens get involved in honoring their own veterans at the Auburn Veteran Memorial Monument.
“The Auburn Veteran Memorial Monument is kind of a standing tribute from the City of Auburn to veterans,” Nichols said. “You can pay a hundred bucks and any veteran you wish to recognize, you can have their name emblazoned on a brick and added to the monument.”
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Nichols said viewers can visit the monument’s website online to check out the monument from a satellite and see the placement of the specialized bricks live.
The committee works to find different servicemen and women every year and put together a detailed description of their service.
“For the last five or six years, the City of Auburn has produced wonderful videos of our distinguished veterans,” Nichols said. “They go through their careers, and they’re really well produced.”
Honoring veterans isn’t a task carried out solely by adult. Auburn High School has a program that gets students involved with talking to veterans and hearing their stories.
Blake Busbin, an Auburn high school teacher, started the AHS Veteran Project in 2014 as a way to connect today’s students to veterans. The program allows students to interview and hear the stories of veterans who participate in the program.
“In creating it, we wanted to build on the traditional guest speaker model to make an experience that was more meaningful for both the student and veteran,” Busbin said.
According to Busbin, the program was created with three goals in mind. One is to provide students the opportunity to learn about the nation’s military history and realities of war through the voices of the veterans themselves, thus creating a more meaningful learning experience.
Another is to recognize and honor the contributions of local veterans through the recording of the oral histories and providing copies to the public via a donation to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
The last is to develop a positive relationship with the community through service learning as the students learn how to create and publish history for a general audience.
Interviews conducted by students are recorded and sent to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, which collects the stories of different veterans from all over the country.
“For the students, interviewing veterans serves as a favorite experience for their junior year,” Busbin said. “Not just for the learning but also the relationship developed with the veteran.”
Busbin also said the experience is good for the veterans who participate and interact with the students.
“There is a great appreciation from the veterans for having an attentive audience who genuinely cares about their story,” Busbin said.
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