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Moniteau plants Memorial Day flags

Moniteau High School students planting Memorial Day flags under the direction of Jeremy Borkowski and Sean Morrow, social studies teachers on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

CHERRY TWP — Twice a year for the past 15 years, two teachers — one, a veteran — have led the charge in decorating the hillside of Moniteau Jr./Sr. High School with over 1,000 American flags ahead of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Jeremy Borkowski and Sean Morrow, who teach social studies and history, joined high school students on Thursday afternoon, May 23, to plant flags in remembrance of the men and women who died in the nation’s wars.

Borkowski estimated that 1,400 flags would be on display at the high school, dotting the vibrant green field facing West Sunbury Road.

“We are putting (flags) out to honor veterans and people who served, and I think it’s important that we do it because a lot of times, they don’t get recognized,” Logan Ryan, a junior, said. “My dad served in the Navy. My grandpa served in the Army. I see a lot of veterans around me who just don’t get recognized a whole lot, and it’s important for us to come out — even if it’s a little activity like this — to recognize them.”

“I think (the flags) represent all the veterans and what they sacrificed,” Ireland Connor, a junior, said.

Ireland said her grandfather served as a Navy SEAL during the Korean War.

Morrow, who said he mostly teaches 11th grade history, is also a Navy veteran. He was deployed during Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. About six months before Iraq attacked Kuwait the first time, he said he was set to return home.

“Then they said, ‘You guys are going back’ and then we went through the Suez Canal into the Persian Gulf,” Morrow said.

“You join the military never hoping to go to war,” he said. “(War) also kind of opens your eyes — there’s a lot going on in the world. A lot can change in a very short period of time.”

Last year, Ireland took classes with both Borkowski and Morrow. Morrow’s stories of his time in the military helped illustrate his lessons, she said. The teacher named Russia, Liberia, Egypt, Turkey, Germany, France, Italy and Greece among countries he traveled to as part of the military.

Morrow was also stationed for a year in Antarctica.

“I did five years in the Navy, and I traveled all over the world,” Morrow said. “I like to make (teaching) a lot more real world instead of just a picture in a book. I like to be able to tell (students) OK. I was here, I did this, these are places you can see, these are things you can do.”

“It makes (history) more real for students that a textbook talking about France or Germany,” he said.

“I kind of try to relate past wars to things that are happening now,” Morrow said. “How could what’s happening in the Middle East today have a relationship to something that happened 1,000 years ago?”

When it comes to teaching students about national and international conflicts, Borkowski also said he focuses on the human aspect of war.

“I’m talking to the students about how they want to be remembered, and the different generations involved, how their lives were,” Borkowski said. “Even on the homefront, the sacrifices that took place.”

Planting flags offers a tangible element that students can learn from observing Memorial Day, Morrow said.

“And it’s a good connection between the community and the school to have a relationship with older veterans and students,” said Borkowski.

American Legion Riders from Post 243 in West Sunbury also attended the flag planting Thursday afternoon. According to service officer and Moniteau graduate Mike Cumberland, Borkowski has used his own money in past years to purchase flags. This year, Cumberland said the Legion donated funds to assist with the effort.

“It brings tears to my eyes,” Cumberland said.

Moniteau High School students planted Memorial Day flags under the direction of Jeremy Borkowski and Sean Morrow, social studies teachers on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Moniteau High School senior Peyton Boda plants Memorial Day flags under the direction of Jeremy Borkowski and Sean Morrow, social studies teachers on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Moniteau High School senior Brock Beachem plants Memorial Day flags under the direction of Jeremy Borkowski and Sean Morrow, social studies teachers on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

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