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John Marx: Geneseo High School honors its veterans with a tribute wall
Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus - 1/17/2021
Jan. 17—It is 20 feet of patriotic splendor, wrapped brightly in red, white and blue.
It stretches from floor to ceiling and features the emblems of the five branches of service.
The past and present are but a touch of a screen away.
It is a fitting tribute from a grateful high school to those who have served — and are serving — their country.
Geneseo High School's latest project — its Veterans and Active Military tribute wall and kiosk — is something everyone can admire and appreciate. A display typical of any project brought to life by Geneseo High School, done with class, dignity and pride.
The idea for the project, first mentioned in September of 2020 by Geneseo schools' superintendent Adam Brumbaugh, was run with by a bevy of well-minded individuals. Travis Mackey, principal at Geneseo High School, administrative assistant Alys DeReu, athletic director Joe Nichols, a host of information gatherers and the good folks at Springfield Armory, brought the project home — despite the pandemic — in November of 2020.
"It's the "Disney Way," celebrating heritage and continuing to invest in the future," said Mackey, one of life's truly good souls. "It was a project everyone got behind."
The display rests just off the school's library and in the lobby of its gorgeous fine arts theater. Dotting one side of the wall are the emblems of all five branches of service, Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard.
An interactive kiosk stands in the middle/front of the neatly wrapped area. A touch of the screen allows any visitor to find a Geneseo High School alum and a Geneseo High School or district staff member who has served.
By using the last name, branch of service or year they graduated from Geneseo High School, one can locate a thumbnail that provides an individual's military information including branch, honors, medals, rank and where that particular person served.
"Just a great way to honor our alumni who have served," Mackey said. "It's so important for us to maintain that tie with the past and have it play a role in the future. It's also a unique tie to our curriculum, where young people can learn where someone served, what it was like to serve in that period and what role they played. It begins with the tie to the school and reaches the community. I think it helps students understand and appreciate those who have gone before them."
Mackey, who noted a similar athletic project is in the final stages — set for the school's main entrance — said community support for the project was tremendous. He singled out the efforts of the Springfield Armory, who graciously lent the financial support to the project.
"Great partner for many, many years," Mackey said of Springfield Armory. "Denny Reese and everyone involved there have always been supporters of the community and our schools. I'm grateful they see the value in education and how things of this nature benefit the community as a whole. I cannot say enough about them."
Kiosk information provided dates and veterans listings as far back as 1898, and as up-to-date as 2019. Among those highlighted graduates is Brigadier General Charles Davis. Interestingly, Davis left Geneseo High School in the spring of his senior year (1898) to fight in the Spanish-American War. He would return to Geneseo, graduate from GHS and the University of Iowa Law School before spending a year at Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the Bar in the early 1900s and would become a successful attorney and judge.
"He also served in World War I," Mackey said of Davis. "Amazing story, one that caught my attention when all this was coming to life. One that caught the attention of many."
There is more planned for the South corridor of Geneseo High School, including the school's Distinguished Alumni area. "Lots left to do, but we feel this is a great start," Mackey said. "And add the athletic site and then we can have a place of recognition for our distinguished alumni. It's a great way shed a positive light on the school."
The Veterans and Active Military wall is a great start.
Any veteran who would like to see the wall display is asked to call the GHS office at 309-945-0399, to schedule a visit. Any GHS alumni who would like to be included is asked to visit www.geneseoschools.org for more information.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309 757 8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Veterans And Active Military Tribute
Geneseo High School
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