The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Local News

November 30, 2013

Learning to give thanks to those who served

Local high school class sends letters to veterans' families

ANDERSON — Fred Fey rarely talked about his service in the Korean War. His family knew little more than he had earned a Purple Heart for being wounded in battle.

But Fey, who died Nov. 1, left a surprising and lasting treasure for his stepson, Steve Shipley, and for Steve's wife, Lori. They wouldn't learn of it until after they buried Fey.

And Fey unwittingly left a history lesson for students at Lapel High School. In a small way, Fey's life touched people on different levels: high school students, a family and his own tale.

One teacher's idea

Every morning before the Pledge of Allegiance starts the day at Lapel High School, U.S. history teacher Dorinda Cassiday reads her class an obituary from that day's newspaper. The clipping highlights the life of a local military veteran who has just died. The reading stresses that unsung individuals, such as those in the obituaries, had as much impact on American life as did better-known historical figures.

"The stories of the lives of our leaders gives us huge insights into their times," Cassiday said. "But not everyone is going to be famous."

The exercise began five years ago when she began stapling obituaries to her bulletin board in the front of her classroom. She told her class they were going to start paying attention to the local residents they were losing.

Just a week later, a female student proposed a way to share the project.

"She asked me, 'Do you think their families would like to know we're doing this?'" Cassiday said. "So we had a class discussion and said we probably should."

A torrent of thank-you letters came back from family members grateful for the recognition. Local families even came up to students and thanked them when they saw them out of school.

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