A student at Ticonderoga Elementary School learns what it’s like to be a soldier from Tom Provoncha of the Ticonderoga Veterans of Foreign Wars. Each year Provoncha spends a day with Ti students explaining military equipment and history as he emphasizes the role of veterans.
Photo by Nancy Frasier.
continued After leaving active Army service, Provoncha spent more than 16 years in the National Guard.
“I joined the Air Force when I was 17,” Provoncha said. “I’ve been involved with the military, in some way or another, ever since. I’m 65 now.”
Provoncha is an avid military historian. He owns a vast collection of military memorabilia, including more than 100 weapons from the Spanish American War to the present. He owns ribbons, medals, uniforms, mess kits, ammo and more.
Each year he brings his gear out to show Ticonderoga Elementary School children what’s it’s like to wear a 40-pound backpack or how it feels to hold a rifle.
His presentation, held at the VFW, is different each year. Two years ago he told students about the D-Day invasion. Last year he talked about the North Africa campaign. He enlists fellow vets to help with the program.
“The reason we all enjoy our liberty is because of the men who made these sacrifices,” Provoncha said. “I think it’s really important for our students to know what veterans did. I think the presentations make it more real for them.
“I wear 28 different medals, I have the Meritorious Service Medal, but I’m no hero,” he added. “I know people who are, though, and want children to know about them, too. These men deserve our respect. They should never be forgotten.”
The Ti students now look forward to the military presentation each year.
“I think the kids get a charge out of it,” Provoncha said. “I tell them things and show them things they can’t get in a classroom. I want to make an impression. I want them to remember what veterans have done for our country.”