HOPEWELL — Josiane Amidon never got to ask her great-grandfathers about their World War II service, so her knowledge of the war has come from her parents, teachers, and movies.
A recent trip provided insight none of those sources could offer.
Amidon, a Midlakes High School senior, recently went to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans with a veteran who was in the war. She was among a large group of Midlakes students, veterans and caretakers who took an all-expenses-paid trip through the Soaring Valor program.
“It opened my mind a lot more to what it was like to not only be in the war, but also to be living during that time period with everything that was going on all over the world,” Amidon said. “My veteran, Frank, told me that so many people he knew also went to war. It was on everyone’s mind. They wanted to support their country.”
Students and veterans on the trip will share reflections at the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Finger Lakes Community College. The free, public event will be at 1 p.m. Nov. 11 in the student center auditorium on the main campus.
Visitors are encouraged to arrive early for parking. Handicap spots are available in the lot closest to the main entrance.
“These students and their veteran travel companions have just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we’re honored they will join our ceremony to share their experiences,” said Jennie Erdle, FLCC’s director of student life. “This is truly a wonderful opportunity to bring our communities together and recognize our veterans.”
The Soaring Valor trip was made possible through the Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines. Sinise, who played Lt. Dan Taylor in the Oscar-winning film “Forrest Gump,” started the foundation after meeting an American serviceman severely injured in an Iraq bomb blast.
The trip began Oct. 9 with a send-off celebration at the Greater Rochester International Airport. It featured a performance by 96-year-old Peter Dupre, a World War II veteran who has become famous for playing the harmonica.
Officials from American Airlines, Honor Flight Rochester and Soaring Valor took part in the send-off.
“It was a great way to start our journey,” Midlakes High Principal Frank Bai-Rossi said. “The trip was well-organized and the museum was a great, educational experience. The most impactful part for me, though, was to see the connections forged between our students and members of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ These are the lessons we can’t offer in the classroom.”
Bai-Rossi will share his thoughts during the Veterans Day ceremony along with about two dozen students and veterans. The event will begin with the song “Waving Above,” composed by the late Robert Barbuto, a longtime adjunct instructor of music at FLCC and retired member of the West Point Band.
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Sarah Whiffen will emcee. FLCC President Robert Nye, a retired Army colonel, will give remarks.
Lori Vail, assistant professor of humanities, will give the invocation and benediction. The Canandaigua American Legion Honor Guard will post and retire the colors.
A dessert reception sponsored by the FLCC Student Corporation and Office of Student Life follows the ceremony.