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Ossining HS Students Create Artwork To Honor Local Veterans

Ossining High School students created artwork to honor the experience of local Vietnam War veterans. Photo Credit: Contributed
Students created paintings, drawings and artwork for veterans. Photo Credit: Contributed
An Ossining High School student presents artwork to honor war veterans. Photo Credit: Contributed

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Ossining High School students created artwork for local veterans after the vets shared their military experiences with the students. 

Some of the artwork included a map of Vietnam superimposed on an American flag alongside a current photo of a veteran and an American Legion patch and a painting of a veteran on skis in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. 

The students gave veterans the paintings, photos and graphic design projects during the third annual Living History Veterans Project presentation at the school last week.

The veterans met with students in April. The artists then had two weeks to create projects that told those stories. The veterans brought medals, photographs, letters, surplus kits, uniforms and other items they had received during their service. Nine veterans participated, including one remotely from Florida.

“It is a very emotional, yet satisfying, event where the veterans feel thankful that the students took the time to recognize them,” said Ron Whitehead, an art teacher at Ossining High School and a Gulf War veteran who developed the program. “The overall lesson in this project is that people should use their talents to help others.”

Vietnam War veteran Robert Ferguson of Mahopac, who has participated in the project for three years, said it’s amazing what the students can create and the insight they have.

“Ossining High School has completely wrapped their arms around the veterans and there’s a comfort zone here,” he said.

Seniors Robert Cafarelli and Jason Zhizhpon created a short film about Vietnam veteran Robert Somerville of Ossining. Robert Cafarelli said it was challenging to do justice to. Somerville’s story.

Student Gabriel Lucero’s artwork included black-and-white photos of Somerville holding his dog tags, along with photos of his medals and ships like the ones he served on while in the U.S. Navy. Across the top, Lucero printed, “13 months on river boats, 2 years on a destroyer escort, lifetime of giving back."

After learning from Vietnam veteran Bill Smith, a Peekskill resident, that not every day during the war was a bad one, Yessenia Rojas created a painting of him looking out on a Vietnam river.

What Ossining High School does for veterans is “fantastic,” he said.

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