TICONDEROGA -The life of a soldier is never easy, even on good days.
A group of Ticonderoga Elementary School students learned that lesson from men who know - veterans - just in time for Memorial Day.
About 50 fifth graders spent May 18 at the Ticonderoga Veterans of Foreign Wars Post learning about World War II and military service from Tom Provoncha, a Vietnam veteran, and Bernard Meagher, a Korean veteran.
"I hope they got an idea what it's like to be a soldier," Provoncha said of the students. "They seemed intensely interested; they were good kids. I hope they have a greater respect for soldiers and the military now."
Students spent about four hours watching actual war footage and getting a history lesson from the local veterans.
Perhaps the most popular aspect was the final hour when Provoncha showed and explained his vast collection of military memorabilia - everything from helmets and canteens to boots and uniforms to rifles and shells. When Provoncha was done, students were invited to handle the artifacts. Some even tried on helmets and carried rifles.
The visit to the VFW was organized by Keith Barber, a retired Ti teacher and a member of the Sons of the American Legion. A history enthusiast, Barber visits the elementary school each year to present programs on Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day and the World War II Pacific Theatre.
"I thought this would be a good year to get the VFW involved and give the kids a treat," Barber said. "It's a rare opportunity for most of these kids to meet men like these."
Barber credited teachers Shelley Young, Kathy Moore and Shannon Huntington for bringing their classes to the VFW. They were accompanied by assistant Pam Thorne and student teacher Ryan Volkmann.
"These are important lessons for children," Barber said. "We enjoy freedom because of men like these."