Veterans Day happens every November 11.

To many of us, it means time off work and maybe a BBQ with friends and family.  But do you know the actual meaning of Veterans Day or why it’s important? Read below; we got you covered.

The Difference Between Memorial Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day

With so many days revolving around BBQs, holiday meanings can get blurred. But each of these holidays serves a very important purpose:

  • Veterans Day–to honor and remember all who have served in the military.
  • Memorial Day–to remember and honor all who sacrificed their lives for our country.
  • Labor Day–to celebrate all the workers who contribute to America’s labor force.

A Few of Primavera’s Veterans

Primavera has many teachers who not only serve our students on a daily basis, but have also served our country. Read a few of their inspiring stories below.

Mr. Jeff Connell, social studies instructor

Mr. Connell is a social studies instructor with a deep love for U.S. history, his country and has a talent for making history fun for students.

He comes from a long line of family dedicated to serving their country and was the U.S. Army Reservee stationed in Iraq.

“I was in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1999-2007. I served in Iraq from 2003-2004 when Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) first began. I joined before the events of 9/11/2001 so it was not a wartime decision for me. I joined because I wanted to serve something greater than myself and to be a part of a brotherhood for life.

Primavera students: Never be afraid to try something you think might be hard. If you want it, go for it. I learned a long time ago from my grandfather that losing is a lesson. When we lose, we never want that feeling again, so we work harder and harder to never lose again. Don’t be afraid to fail because it will teach you to never fail again. Know that there are people who care about you and want you to succeed, but in order to be truly successful, you must want it for yourself.”

Ms. Diane L. Thomas, English instructor, MAEd

Ms. Thomas is a new English instructor at Primavera who has been teaching for 16 years. She also served our country in the United States Air Force for four years.

“I joined the Air Force under the DEP (Delayed Entry Program) in 1976. This was the year of which women were accepted into the USAF on an equal basis with men. I was in one of the first flights of women to go through basic training at Lackland AFB in Texas.

My job was Air Traffic Controller. As a very young female Airman, the environment was not always tailored to meet our circumstances. We were not treated differently and accommodations based on gender were excluded.

My advice to students who wish to join is to be able to step aside, behind or in front of those who you serve and protect. You must learn to focus on the task at hand, do not ask questions, follow orders, and be available to adjust to new leadership at all times.”

Mr. Jamal Arberry, English instructor

Mr. Arberry is an English teacher who has been with Primavera for about two years. He is also a big fan of Japanese arts; he started Primavera’s Manga & Anime student club and is a co-advisor. He served in the Marine Corps stationed in the Philippines.

“I was attached with a Marine Security Element in which the mission was part of Operation Enduring Freedom- Philippines. Many people might not know that there are jihadist terrorist down in those parts.

In this picture, we were invited to an event in which the people of Zamboanga City wanted to show their appreciation for us, the U.S. military. We had the opportunity to mingle with the locals and we got to watch some native dances. A lot of the kids became particularly fascinated with me when they found out I was Filipino, so they wanted to take pictures with me.

It was a really good time, especially for me, because I was able to enjoy tons of food I was familiar with, like Filipino rice cakes and roasted pig on the spit.

Students: As you continue through your life’s journey go and do good, make mistakes, make a fool of yourself every now and then, go and own opportunity and take all these experiences and become the great person you know you can be.”

Mr. Steven Forrett, English instructor, PASS program

Mr. Forrett is an English instructor who has been teaching for more than 17 years. He served in the United States Coast Guard from 1971–1975.

“Our country was in a very unpopular war and I knew that the draft was imminent. Due to the fact that I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, I knew about the work of the U.S. Coast Guard and wanted to be involved with search and rescue operations and experience the challenge and adrenaline of that kind of service.

I did not get an opportunity to serve in that capacity until close to the end of my time with the Coast Guard.  Eventually, I would be transferred to Yerba Buena Island and spend about six months as part of a small boat crew until I was discharged honorably in 1975.

Prior to that time, I served aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Rush (WHEC 723).  At that time, ‘High Endurance Cutters’ served in various capacities in the Pacific including Ocean Station November to give guidance to planes and jets flying overhead in the days before satellite navigation. In addition, we aided enforcement of fishing in U.S. waters near Alaska. We monitored the Russians and the Japanese who would cast their nets in those waters surrounding Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

As a specialized vessel, high endurance cutters were equipped with some of the most sophisticated underwater sonar detection devices of that era. Due to that ability, we encountered a rather amazing discovery in the San Diego Harbor area in late 1973.  As it happens, we were there at that time for some ASWAX (Anti-submarine Warfare) training.

Since the U.S. at that time was in a state of ‘cold war’ with the Soviet Union (today called Russia), there was reason for concern. Apparently, the USSR had a nuclear vessel snooping around near San Diego, the home of the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy.

Why that nuke was there, we never found out, but it was interesting to have had the honor of being the quartermaster on duty to announce to the crew of the Rush over the ship’s announcement system, the 1MC – ‘This is not a drill . . . this is not a drill. All hands man general quarters.  All hand man general quarters.’

We chased her around for several days and eventually lost contact with her. Captain Horace Holmgren, USCG, our skipper, felt that she had gone to deeper waters to avoid our detection.

I ended my time with the coasties serving small boat duty in San Francisco Bay.   Nothing would top that incident with the Russians on that day in 1973.”

Semper Paratus.   “Always Ready.”

Mr. Forrett BM3, United States Coast Guard Veteran.

Mr. Ramesh Joshi, math instructor

Mr. Ramesh Joshi has been with Primavera for 12 years teaching math. He is often a favorite among Primavera students, as he is known for being funny and going out of his way to individually help students grasp each math concept. Mr. Joshi served in the military for a number of years before becoming a teacher about 20 years ago.

“I enjoy the amount of participation that my students commit to. For example, students talk to me on the phone to participate in whatever situation they are in, be it at home, working in restaurants or out grocery shopping in between classes. I love being able to provide that.

Students: Believe in yourself, always do your best, never give up, inspire others.”

How You Can Help America’s Veterans

At Primavera, we believe it imperative to help out our veterans who have worked so hard to protect us. This November 11, look out for an event near you and see how you can volunteer. Here’s a few ways to get you started:

You can also head to this site to see Veterans events happening this month.