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Honoring Karen Schoenfeld and Lacrosse Roads School

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, rise today to recognize Karen Schoenfeld and all of the faculty and students at La Crosse Roads School, which is a high school in my district in western Wisconsin. The students and faculty at the school are performing a great service to our country and deserve our praise and recognition.

Four years ago, after listening to my father and uncle talk about their experiences serving our country overseas, I realized that our Nation needed to record the valuable stories of our veterans and those Americans who supported them. And it was this simple experience that led me to author the Veterans Oral History Project Act. After passing the House and Senate unanimously and being signed into law by President Clinton, the project was turned over to the able staff at the Library of Congress's Folklife Center. This small but dedicated staff relies heavily on volunteers to collect the stories of veterans, and La Crosse Roads School has risen admirably to this challenge.

Partnering with the local Rotary Club, of which Karen is a member, the students and faculty at La Crosse Roads have taken on the task of contacting and interviewing veterans and submitting their interviews for inclusion in the Veterans History Project. The interaction between these high school students and our Nation's veterans has been an amazing one to watch. The teenagers tell me that they have never before been interested in history; by hearing our veterans' stories first-hand, they are not only interested, but they also feel that they are a part of preserving an important part of American history. They are making a significant contribution to our country and get enormous satisfaction from doing so. The veterans, some of whom have never talked about their experiences before, feel gratified that their stories are important to others. The excellent work done by Karen and the students has been aided by the National Court Reporters, led by my wife Tawni, who are transcribing the interviews. In all, the work that Karen and the students have done has been incredibly successful. They are an excellent example of the kind of partnerships that make the Veterans History Program a national success.

Karen is truly a remarkable person who brings her enthusiasm and energy to the classroom working with these "at-risk" students. There is no half-effort or lower gear for Karen, and that is reflected in the success her students achieve. She not only has had her students involved with the Veterans History Project for the past three years; she has also worked with the local CESA office to develop a website and lesson plan for other teachers and students to use for the project. And every year Karen teams with a WWII veteran, Bill Bruring, to have an awards ceremony in La Crosse to recognize the students and particularly the veterans. It is a very moving and patriotic ceremony that I have had the pleasure of attending.

Many of us were lucky enough to be on the Mall this past weekend and visit with some of the veterans who were here for the dedication of the National World War II Memorial. It was truly inspiring to talk to these great men and women, who had sacrificed so much and have a great deal to teach us. I believe that Karen and her students have learned many important lessons from our veterans, and I would like to end by reading a poem Karen wrote that beautifully expresses the experience she and her students have had with the veterans:


I never saw the flag before.
Not really, not its soul.
I only saw the stars, the stripes,
a fabric on a pole.
Now as I gaze upon the flag
I can see young faces.
All called away from our proud land
to other distant places.
They did what they were called to do.
They put their dreams on hold.
They knew that others needed them.
They did what they were told.
And you, my friend, have taught me this-
the sacrifices made.
You helped me know what I have earned
From the price that others paid.
I've been in class, I've read the books.
I've seen the movies too.
But now I know our freedom's price-
All this I've learned from you.

Karen Schoenfeld


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