Many people observe Veterans Day by attending a parade, thanking a military member or watching a TV documentary on the History Channel.
But Seneca Valley history teacher Jim Lucot takes it to another level.
This year, at Lucot’s behest, students at Seneca Valley sent out more than 1,600 letters to active and former military members, veterans from conflicts as far back as World War II and as recent as the war in Afghanistan.
It’s an annual tradition that the teacher has been spearheading for more than a decade. But this year isn’t like the rest.
That’s because, instead of the usual 800 or so letters sent out by students, the amount more than doubled. It’s gotten so large that students who have never even had Lucot in class have contacted him about getting involved.
But the entire project isn’t simply limited to current students. Lucot said he keeps a list of Seneca Valley graduates who are on active military duty, and makes sure their names are at the top of the list.
“Two of the guys currently on my list, I had in class years ago,” Lucot said. “One is a Marine on his third tour and another is an Army officer on his first tour. I know they appreciate it. They wrote letters themselves when they were in my class.”
The volume of mail was so high, Lucot said, that it cost him $100 just to pay for postage. But the cost is worth it when he and the students see the letters they get in return.
“They’ll make you cry,” he said.
Lucot doesn’t discriminate when it comes to names on his list. Combat service is not a requirement, although many on the list have seen action.
One veteran, “Wild Bill” Guarnere, is a celebrated World War II veteran who was profiled on the hit HBO series “Band of Brothers.” Lucot recently received a thank-you letter from him.
In addition, he has also received notes from Iwo Jima veteran John Snyder as well as Dutch Van Kirk, the last living member of the “Enola Gay” crew.
High-profile names and stories aren’t a requirement to make Lucot’s list, which keeps growing year after year. Instead, it’s just about a younger generation showing appreciation and respect for those who came before, and those who sacrificed a great deal for the America we live in today.
“It really shows the patriotism of the kids,” Lucot said about the increase in letters. “And when these veterans get this massive package of letters from a bunch of teenagers they don’t know, it’s hard for them not to appreciate it.”