On Monday I had the opportunity to attend an incredible event at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor. Three middle school and three high school students read their winning essays based on interviews with veterans, arranged by the Museum and the Cole Family Foundation.
It’s one thing to create a museum and fill it with jeeps and a locomotive and other vehicles (and don’t get me wrong – this is impressive). It’s another to actively connect people together with a strong educational component. Cole, largely through the efforts of its founder and the founder’s son, has done both.
Education is at the core of the museum’s and foundation’s work – not just the education in the museum’s displays but in this connecting and other programming. More than 30,000 students have participated in this annual essay contest. It was clear the impact this experience had on the students. And it was inspiring to see these veterans, who, after giving selflessly in service to their country on the battlefield, are now giving to students back home. I sat next to one veteran who does this five days a week – she meets with students to answer their questions about the meaning of freedom to help them form an understanding.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the museum or have your students participate in this program, I highly recommend it.