MICHIGAN CITY — Students at Barker Middle School believe the legacy and sacrifices of Korean War veterans should be “preserved and learned by future generations.”
To help make it happen, the Barker Student Council conducted video interviews of four local Korean War veterans – Ed Werner of Michigan City, Carl Grose of Valparaiso, Jim Toutloff of La Porte, and Harold Broertjes of Hammond.
The Student Council members “acted as oral historians, connecting the gap between the region’s generations,” Student Council sponsor Mariah Pol said.
“The Korean War is often remembered as the ‘forgotten war,’ however, the Student Council wants to help in any way to have our veterans’ sacrifices honored and remembered,” she said.
Council president Kayla Campbell, an eighth-grader, conducted the video interviews, assisted by 7th grader and Student Council Historian Heavenly Thompkins, who ran the camcorder equipment.
The students also digitally archived letters and photographs that the veterans brought in from their time in the service. Eighth-grade Student Council members Kendra Lamberg and Skylar Henderson ran the scanning equipment and digitally documented the primary sources.
Davida Barney, Nelly Serrano, and Violet Murphy all assisted in guiding the veterans to the various interview and archiving stations, and “engaged in conversations with the veterans to learn firsthand about their war experiences,” Pol said.
All of the veterans’ video interviews will be submitted to the Korean War Legacy Foundation, which collects veteran interviews from around the world. They currently have more than 1,200 veteran interviews archived.
The Korean War Legacy Foundation “uses these veteran interviews to create veteran profiles for teachers around the world to use in their classroom lesson plans,” Pol said.
“All the interviews are transcribed, edited to classroom appropriate clips, and tagged by meta-data," she said.
And, thanks to the Barker students’ efforts, “our Northwest Indiana Korean War veterans will now be represented on the website’s archives,” Pol said.
Pol is a Teacher Ambassador with the Korean War Legacy Foundation and "helps to create curriculum used by the veterans as primary source material in the classroom,” Barker curriculum coach Amy Hamann said.