Zach Doyle can’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in computer science.
“I spent most of my childhood summers attending and, later, working at, computer camp in my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland,” Zach said. “I’ve always liked the unambiguous nature of formal languages and the underlying logic they express.”
Thanks to The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, Zach, currently a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder, had the opportunity to expand and apply his programming skills in a big way. He was awarded a computer science scholarship to use his technological skills as an intern at the Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) non-profit organization.
Boulder Food Rescue aims to revitalize the food pantry system to get food that would otherwise be wasted to people who might otherwise go hungry. Local businesses load Boulder Food Rescue bins with soon-to-expire fresh produce. Volunteers hook the bins to their bicycles and deliver the payload to soup kitchens and other organizations able to distribute the food. The system works—if everything is tracked properly to make sure food isn’t wasted due to missed pick-ups or double deliveries. That’s where Zach came in.
Boulder Food Rescue diverts thousands of pounds of fresh produce every day which otherwise would be disposed of
Zach had previously worked with a homeless shelter that was chronically under-supplied, and he was familiar with the problems of waste in food distribution systems. He was eager to help Boulder Food Rescue address those problems using his unique skill set.
Under the mentorship of Caleb Phillips, the Food Rescue Robot’s original designer and an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, Zach quickly learned how to improve the software needed for the food transfer process.
“Zach came into the project with very little experience directly applicable to the task. Nevertheless, he picked up concepts quickly,” Caleb said, also mentioning Zach’s kindness and thoughtfulness as a worker. “I enjoyed working with him.”
Pick- ups and deliveries are made by bicycle to minimize the impact on the environment
Zach spent much of his internship updating the Food Rescue Robot to allow for a more efficient and useful delivery system. When he started, the Food Rescue Robot could track a donor location, a recipient location and the food items that could be transferred. Zach taught the system to track schedule chains, consisting of multiple stops to ensure that the foods available arrive promptly at the places that need them the most.
“Through this internship, I gleaned more skills while working on a real project with a real organization,” Zach said. “I found it immensely satisfying to work on a real project with real consequences, as opposed to writing the same code every Computer Science major before has written.”
Caleb said the code Zach wrote for the Food Rescue Robot is now an integral part of the tool, and it’s used by 22 cities internationally to track food recovery. The system has rescued 1.13 million pounds of food to date, with the help of 949 volunteers.
“I can confidently say that more food will get to more people who need it because of the computer code I wrote,” Zach said. “There is, as far as I’m concerned, no feeling that compares to applying one’s self—in a skilled capacity—for the greater good.”
Casey’s mom, Dianne Anderson at press conference in OC, NJ announcing “Casey’s Law” in 2010
I had the pleasure of meeting Casey when we were randomly placed together as roommates at Fordham University, Fordham College Lincoln Center in 2006 as we began our freshman year. The powers overseeing freshmen dorm assignments must know what they’re doing, because we and our four other roommates opted to live together for the following two years, becoming inseparable friends in the process. One of Fordham’s founding philosophies is “homines pro aliis”—acting as men and women for others and Casey embodied this fully. From small acts of kindness like lending a favorite shirt or lipstick to one of us for a night out to larger deeds like volunteering with animals or donating food or change to the homeless dotting the steps of a church close to campus, Casey was truly a young woman for others. Given that, it couldn’t be more fitting that The Casey Feldman Foundation has continued to act for others and sponsor numerous wonderful initiatives and partnerships in Casey’s memory over the 5 years since her death.
Joel Feldman interacting with students during an EndDD presentation at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Nov. 2014
EndDD.org – End Distracted Driving
Perhaps the most visible way that the Foundation has reached out to others is through their sponsorship of EndDD.org – End Distracted Driving. Casey’s father, Joel Feldman, has personally given the EndDD.org distracted driving presentation to more than 35,000 people. With the help of hundreds of volunteer speakers, almost 250,000, mostly teens, have seen the presentation in 42 states and Canada. Incorporated in the presentation are PSA videos, three of which have been produced by Casey’s father: “Faces of Distracted Driving – Casey Feldman, 21”, in which I and Casey’s mother and other friends appear; “Just a Few Seconds”, which features a 17-year-old distracted driver as well as the daughter of the 61 year old man who was killed; and one directed at parents, “Parents – Be the Driver You Want Your Teen to Be”.
SHS 2011 recipient Hayden Dahmn with his seeing eye companion Fathom. Haydem is an engineering student at Swarthmore College
I have had the privilege to present alongside Casey’s parents to some of the more local audiences and it is a truly moving experience. The impact on those in the room after the presentation closes is palpable. Whether it is high school seniors or grandparents, it is clear this initiative is making a real impression and inspiring others to change their driving habits for the safer and better.
In addition to the Foundation’s work educating communities on distracted driving, a variety of scholarships are offered at Springfield High School (SHS), Fordham College at Lincoln Center and University of Colorado at Boulder, the high school and college alma maters of Casey and her brother Brett. Through the Foundation’s generosity, Springfield High students are afforded college scholarships with recipients attending schools such as Swarthmore College,Drexel, St. Joseph’s, Georgetown, Widener, Temple and West Chester Universities (click on the college hyperlink to read the article about the recipient).
Annina Baker, 2013 Cappies scholarship recipient, currently a student at Villanova University
Students working on Fordham’s newspaper, The Observer, of which Casey was News Editor, are given the opportunity to attend the annual National College Journalism Convention sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press. In addition, a Fordham Communication and Media Studies major receives a stipend allowing him or her to gain experience in their field by accepting and completing an otherwise unpaid internship. Without this stipend, many students would have to forgo valuable internship opportunities and accept a part time job instead, to help pay for college expenses.
Harry Huggins & Monique John, Fordham recipients 2011 & 2012
In keeping with the Foundation’s efforts to reward those who are interested in community service and working for the greater good, another favorite program is that which provides stipends to computer science majors to provide services for a non-profit. The Foundation recognized how many non-profits with limited budgets had marginal websites, needed help developing a social media presence or needed software development designed for their specific needs to help them operate more efficiently. Computer science stipends at University of Colorado Boulder and Villanova University (Casey’s parents’ law school alma mater and the institution where her father, Joel, recently received his masters in counseling) have enabled over a dozen non-profits to receive this much needed technology help. At the same time, it has given computer science majors, virtually all of whom have well paying jobs waiting for them before they even graduate, the opportunity to know how gratifying it can be to “give back”, something that they hopefully, will want to continue in the future.
Sean Wiese, computer science recipient who developed a software program for Boulder Food Rescue, 2012
The first computer stipend at Boulder, went to Sean Wiese, who had a job waiting for him at Microsoft upon graduation. Sean worked for Boulder Food Rescue (BFR), an organization that redistributes perishable food “waste” to charities that serve homeless and at-risk individuals with the goal of helping to solve the problems of hunger, malnutrition, and food waste in the community. Sean developed a software program that enabled BFR to track pickups and deliveries of food and manage the schedules of 70 volunteers, increasing the amount of food pick- ups and deliveries by hundreds of pounds per week in just the first few weeks. Other non-profits which have benefited from this Foundation scholarship include The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania, Gilda’s Club, Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, Nancy’s House, Youth Directions and the Boulder County Arts Alliance.
Volunteers painting at Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals on Casey’s 1st “angelversary” in 2010
Annual July 17th Day of Service
Community service is something that has also become an annual tradition on Casey’s “angelversary” over these past 5 years. A day of service takes place on July 17th each year with family, friends and supporters of Casey and the Foundation volunteering their time in honor of Casey at a location in the Philadelphia area organized by the Foundation. The first 2 years of service took place at Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals and the last 3, at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, where the Foundation also funded Magee’s first 2 facility/therapy dogs.
Casey cherished her time spent performing in theater, working on the Observer and at her various internships and volunteering to help animals, among other things. Thus, there could not be a more fitting tribute to her than allowing others to do the same through these diverse scholarships and programs. Community support of these initiatives is vital to their continuance.
For one Fordham University photography student, her college experience became slightly more picture perfect when she got the chance to pursue a dream internship. Jessica Wendroff, a double major in communication and media studies with a concentration in film, and visual arts with a concentration in photography, was able to achieve her goal of interning at the Museum of Modern Art in New York after winning the Casey A. Feldman Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship was established at Fordham University where Casey was a senior at the time of her death, to assist students with finances so that they could gain valuable experience in their field by taking advantage of internship opportunities. Without the $2500 stipend, Jessica would have had to forgo the unpaid internship at the museum for part-time employment to help cover college expenses.
Jessica was able to spend her time at the Museum of Modern Art this past spring researching, organizing and correcting images for exhibits. According to Jessica, “I was able to solely focus on my internship and thoroughly enjoy and absorb it, instead of having to juggle work and the experience. The money helped fund my transportation and food, as well as allow me to buy a small subscription of Photoshop, so that I could practice what was being taught to me from home. I was also able to buy more memory cards and camera equipment so that I could take more photographs and with better quality.”
Jessica Wendroff and Fordham professor & mentor to Casey, Dr. Elizabeth Stone at the Fordham Sr. Leadership Awards Banquet
Jessica, who graduated from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus in 2014, and has just completed travels to various countries to take street photographs, said her time at the school has given her experiences that she intends to carry with her in her career and beyond.
These include serving as an orientation leader and darkroom assistant at the university, as well as participating in Fordham’s Emerging Leaders program. Additionally, Jessica has volunteered at Free Arts NYC, which provides arts-based mentoring programs for young people.
She adds that the internship and award have also had a profound impact on her:
I am extremely grateful for having been granted this opportunity and have nothing but warm thoughts and gratitude for the Feldman family,” she said. “I feel that the experience helped move from where I wanted to be to where I needed to be and was definitely a catalyst for growth, both visually and intellectually. All in all, the experience helped carve an intern into a tech-savvy career woman with a heightened aesthetic sense and judgment. I am eternally appreciative for having an experience that not only bettered my resume, but my mind and the way I view the world and photography.
Fordham Professor Stephen Kalisky said Jessica stood out in his effective speaking class and called her “one of the true delights” of the semester because of her sense of humor and impressive work ethic.
“I often say that regardless of where they start, I want all of my students to move 10 feet forward during their semester with me,” he wrote in a recommendation letter. “Jessica leaped and bound past 10 feet. I haven’t encountered many students who overcame their blocks with such efficiency and determination.”
Casey’s brother Brett & his friends painting – Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, 2010
Casey’s friends insulating the attic at Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, 2011
A stroke victim at Magee working on his motor skills as he brushes Joey’s teeth, 2014
Jenna Schein (R) helping an injured screech owl at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary, 2014
By Rachael Kemmey*
On the day of Casey’s fifth “angelversary,” a friend said to me, “I can’t believe it’s already been five years, can you?” My answer, although contradictory, was both yes and no. Yes, it is unfathomable that one thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven days have passed since the last time I saw my friend. How have five years already come and gone without her here? Yet, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime since I’ve seen Casey. Every day without her feels long. I was at a loss trying to explain how time could move both fast and slow; perhaps, there is no way to understand this feeling, unless you were blessed with knowing Casey.
Five is also the number of years that Casey’s family and friends have been working to make a difference through The Casey Feldman Foundation. The Foundation honors Casey’s life and memory by keeping Casey’s passion for helping others alive and by supporting many causes that were near and dear to Casey’s heart. One of those is her unconditional love for animals.
Growing up, Casey had numerous pets; everything from chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and horses, to fish, lizards, hermit crabs and turtles. Of course, there were also dogs and cats. The Feldman family always had one dog and usually four cats at a time, all rescues. Casey was a proud member of PETA, among various other organizations, and was a strong advocate for adoption of strays. While studying at Fordham University in New York City, Casey volunteered at Animal Haven, a no-kill shelter. Casey walked the dogs and simply spent time with them as well as with the cats, assisting in their socialization and making them feel comfortable and loved.
It is gratifying to look back over the last five years and see how The Casey Feldman Foundation, among its multitude of endeavors, has also sought to honor Casey’s love of animals.
Every year on Casey’s “angelversary,” the Foundation conducts a day of service; every day of service over the last five years has incorporated animals. On the first “angelversary,” approximately forty volunteers worked at Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, a no-kill shelter located in Radnor, Pennsylvania. The entire interior of the shelter was painted in the course of a day. The following year, volunteers returned to Francisvale and worked on building a new outdoor play area for the dogs, cleaning up the grounds and insulating the attic. The last three “angelversaries” were spent at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the Foundation established the first Facility Dog Program in 2012. Joey, a Labrador Retriever and Ford, a Golden Retriever were sponsored by the Foundation. Ford and Joey are specially trained health and human services “professionals” who support patients in their therapy and facilitate the rehabilitation process (watch the TV news video below).
In addition to incorporating animals into the annual day of service, the Foundation also directly supports local shelters through grants. Most recently, the Foundation sponsored the Casey Feldman Foundation Spay and Neuter Day at Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR). As a result, five animals were neutered, a procedure which drastically cuts down on the number of animals euthanized in the United States each year. In addition, the Foundation also sponsored Helga at MLAR, a German Shepard who had spent the previous 5 years of her life in a hutch at a puppy mill and was in desperate need of medical care; she was a “spinner” as a result of her confinement and had tried to rip off her own tail. The Foundation’s grant saved Helga’s life. In order to help MLAR with their training program, the Foundation also donated funds for the “Casey Cam.” Since its installation, the camera has provided trainers with an opportunity to track each animal’s progress.
Dr. Meg Anderson (R) and her assistant, Spay/Neuter Day at MLAR, 2014
In addition, various scholarship programs that the Foundation has funded have benefited animals. Our 2012 PIIE recipient, Dylan Mark, interned for the summer at the Boulder Valley Humane Society. Computer science major Lauren McDermott from Villanova University received a stipend to provide much needed IT services to Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, revamping and updating their website in 2011. Our Alternative Spring Break program has also impacted animals – Erica Durbin spent her spring break volunteering at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in 2011 and this past spring, Jennah Schein volunteered her week off working at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in NC. Of course, all the various Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients who spent their week working in some form of environmental conservation all had a positive impact on wildlife.
In the upcoming years, the Foundation looks forward to continuing to honor Casey’s love of animals through supporting existing programs and establishing new ones.
All of the Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship recipients have dreams, be it short term or for the future – for themselves, their community or the world. Elizabeth, “Ellie” Roberts got this opportunity, literally, through a Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) scholarship funded by The Casey Feldman Foundation to work this past summer with the non-profit I Have A Dream (IHAD) Foundation of Boulder County. The PIIE program at the University of Colorado Boulder (where Casey’s brother, Brett is a student) aims to encourage civic leadership by providing students with a stipend to intern with a nonprofit or public agency, organizations that may not otherwise be able to provide compensation for a student intern.
IHAD, where Ellie interned, is dedicated to helping low-income youths achieve a brighter future through a long-term, comprehensive educational and cultural enrichment program. The IHAD Foundation “adopts” groups of 50 low-income students, “Dreamers” in third grade who are deemed to be at high risk of dropping out of school. They hire a project coordinator and establish a learning center exclusively for that group and provide the Dreamers a year-round program of tutoring, mentoring, after-school enrichment, computer technology training, life and social skills, and college and career preparation until they finish high school. The Dreamers ultimately receive a four-year tuition-assistance scholarship for college or vocational school.
Elizabeth stated that she “fell in love with IHAD. Their mission, results, and passion [are] addicting and amazing.”
Ms. Roberts is a full-time student, a CU Student Government Tri-Executive, and works part time to fund her living expenses all while maintaining a 4.0 academic grade point average. Elizabeth will be graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in communications as well as an elementary education license.
While interning with IHAD, Ms. Roberts worked with students, created lessons, taught classes, assisted with daily logistics and worked on individual projects assigned by the Program Director and Vice President of Programs. Elizabeth stated that this internship “reaffirmed the fact that I know I want to work in the education field and I want to spend every day for the rest of my life fighting to make sure low-income youth in our community have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers.”
After graduating, Elizabeth hopes to be a teacher or work for a nonprofit that focuses on education equality or education reform.
Ms. Roberts is grateful for the opportunity afforded her by the Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship. “Everyday was new and exciting. Every day was fast-paced, compelling, enriching, and extremely beneficial to my future career goals and me as a person…Thank you for supporting the CU PIIE Program and for supporting me. This was the best and most beneficial summer of my life.”
I gave a distracted driving talk Tuesday at The Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. One of the students was blonde and she looked a little like my daughter, Casey. And she had the same habit as Casey – twirling her hair with her left hand. Following the talk, the school was getting out for Thanksgiving and many were leaving directly with family to travel for the holiday.
As I drove home I thought that if Casey were alive she, like all the girls at the talk, would be coming home to be with us for Thanksgiving. I would always pick her up at the train station in Philadelphia as she came home from college in NYC. I would see her before she would see me and I would look forward to that instant when she would first see me and smile – a smile just for her Dad. I was really feeling down and missing Casey and thinking about how our Thanksgiving would not be so joyous. I thought about how I missed so many things about Casey, including her smile and how she twirled her hair.
Often when I finish a talk and am alone in my car I get emotional but, it was more so on Tuesday. I got home and continued to be deep in thought about how much I missed so many things about her. I thought of all that Casey had lost out on and all that we had lost. It was hard to feel thankful.
Then I received an e-mail from a father of one of the students at the school and it turned everything around for me emotionally. The father’s e-mail included the following:
My daughter just texted me that she found your presentation at her school to be a real eye-opener… she doesn’t text me often to comment on speakers she hears in class, but I think she was deeply moved by your experience, and so I write to you now.
I knew about your upcoming visit from an announcement, and at dinner last night I encouraged my daughter to be receptive to you. I got the usual rolling eye response that she’s heard it all before. She is a senior, and immersed in the more pleasant aspects of her life.
Thank you for making distracted driving an issue that we are all now concerned about. From your own unspeakable personal loss, I am sure that you are preventing many other tragedies. Your work is not only in the highest tradition of the lawyer, but the epitome of a human being who improves the lives of his neighbors.
When I read the email I realized just how much I did have to be thankful for: for my family and friends; for the support of so many wonderful and caring people; for the incredible 21 years I had with Casey; for that young blonde student whose hair twirling prompted great memories of Casey; and, for being able to tell Casey’s story everywhere to teens who are passionate, compassionate, energetic and so receptive to my message about distracted driving.
I am also grateful for that father’s email, as it prompted me to count my blessings on this Thanksgiving day.
Priyanka Guragain is one of those young people who the Casey Foundation Foundation takes great pride in calling one of our scholarship recipients. She applied for a scholarship stipend in her freshman year in college to take an “Alternative Spring Break” trip, where she could spend the week working, being of service. She didn’t want one of those spring breaks trips to Cancun, to relax and “party”, even if she could have afforded it.
Now a sophomore sociology major, Priynaka came to this country from Nepal six years ago with her mother and younger brother to establish a better life. In addition to a heavy course load, Priyanka works part time time throughout the school year and full time in the summer so that she can help to meet her needs and those of her younger brother. Priyanka’s mother, a single parent, considers Priyanka her “right hand” and second guardian to her younger brother. Leaving behind a career in Nepal, Priynanka’s ‘s mother struggles financially here, with half of her salary going to pay for Priynaka’s college tuition.
The CU volunteer students on Catalina Island
” I have felt the pressure of huge expectations and dreams that my mother carries for me. As I began college last fall, I used those dreams as my strength to get through college,” said Priyanka. “The struggle that I have seen my mother go through is my motivation to achieve my dreams,” she added.
The service trip that Priyanka chose was an environmental trip, working with the Catalina Island Conservancy in California, helping to protect and restore one of the world’s most magnificent islands. While there, Priyanka and a dozen or so other students from University of Colorado Boulder removed invasive plants, performed trail maintenance and removed fences on the steep hillsides surrounding parts of the island.
Priyanka chose this trip because of her appreciation of nature and the environment, and to learn more about environmental conservation, “I have seen the beautiful rural areas of Nepal, but unfortunately, because of its political turmoil, environmental conservation has not been a focus of the citizens there.” said Priyanka.
Students embracing the beauty of Catalina Island
With what little extra time she has, Priynaka is involved in other student organizations on campus in addition to the Volunteer Resource Center, which organized the spring break trip. She also works with Community Health and Restorative Justice. stating that ,” I don’t want to let any opportunity pass by because I want to make college a journey of knowledge and great experience….College is everything I dreamed it would be.”
Priynaka speaks four languages, Nepali, Hindi, English and Spanish and is “very curious” to try a new one. As to her future plans, Priyanka has an interest in the Peace Corps and the United Nations.
” I am only seventeen and the accomplishments that Casey achieved with her passions encourages me to dream bigger,” stated Pryianka.
It’s always great to follow up with our scholarship recipients and hear how well they are doing. Jaclyn DiGregorio, one of our Springfield High School (SHS) 2013 recipients, is no exception.
Jaclyn is currently in her second year at Georgetown University studying Marketing and International Business in the McDonough School of Business. In addition to her rigorous course load which she reports as “interesting”, Jaclyn is working in a marketing internship where she is gaining valuable hands-on experience in her major.
Jaclyn is also heavily involved in her sorority at Georgetown, Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG), where she is New Member Chair, responsible for welcoming all new members and helping them “get up to speed” with the work of KKG at Georgetown.
Jaclyn graduated 4th in her class at SHS. She was a member of the National Honor Society, PEER Facilitators, National Language Honor Society and the Hi-Q. She has also served as class officer of the class of 2013 for three years and was chairperson for the Steve Stefani Dance Marathon, becoming the most successful leader in its history, leading her peers and community to raise over $194,000 for pediatric cancer patients.
Way to go Jaclyn! We thank your SHS teacher, Dr. William Harley, for recommending you for the scholarship that bears Casey’s name.
“Val is a terrific young woman who possesses many of the qualities that Casey did as a student here at SHS,” stated Springfield High School (SHS) Director of Bands, Scott Blanford in nominating Valerie Vecchione for the 2014 Casey Feldman Foundation SHS scholarship. “She has a natural talent to perform, a superior work ethic, excellent leadership qualities, and is caring, supportive, and just a downright good person.” SHS teacher, Lisa Shughart, who also nominated Valerie, stated that Val is a ” loving, caring, young woman who holds much promise.”
Valerie has used her scholarship proceeds toward West Chester University where she is currently in the first semester of her freshman year, studying to become an elementary school teacher.
While at SHS, Valerie was involved in multiple activities. She held the leadership position of Guard Captain of the SHS Marching Band. In that position, she consistently demonstrated the ability to work hard behind the scenes, perform under pressure in front of thousands of people, and connect positively with her peers. Valarie constantly put the focus on the members of the guard and demonstrated “an amazing level of loyalty and honestly with her peers,” added Mr. Blanford. “The students in the band looked to her for her leadership, guidance, and support.”
As an active participant in the music program while at SHS, Valerie was also a member of the indoor guard and school choirs. She has also participated in the SHS Dance Marathon, an annual event that has raised over $225,000 in the last 13 years for the Hershey Medical Center’s Four Diamonds Fund.
In her aspiration to become a teacher, Valerie has taken advantage of summer activities to become involved in different ways with her chosen profession. As a sophomore she volunteered with StageStormers, a children’s summer theater program that she herself was active in during her grade school and middle school years. As a high school volunteer there, she assisted the director with teaching the children their lines, singing, and games. As a junior and following her senior year, Val volunteered in Scenic Hills Elementary School’s summer program helping students with reading, math, and other assignments.
Last but not least, Valerie volunteered after her freshman year in high school with CatNip Animal Rescue, one of the many causes particularly near and dear to Casey’s heart. While at the animal rescue, Val helped to nurture sick and/or injured cats and kittens back to health; provide information to potential adopters and others; and, place homeless cats with their forever families.
We at the Casey Feldman Foundation could not be more honored to have Valerie Vecchione as the 2014 recipient of the SHS scholarship that bears Casey’s name. We also could not agree more completely with Mr. Blanford in his comment that Valerie “will continue to become a well-rounded, compassionate, and responsible citizen of the global community.”
Thank you SHS’s Scott Blanford and Lisa Shughart for nominating this outstanding young woman! And, best wishes Valerie, for your success in college and ultimately as an elementary school teacher.
World War I, described as the “war to end all wars,” ended with the signing of the Armistice. The Armistice took effect on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in 1918. Following World War II we now remember veterans from all wars on Veterans Day, November 11th. On November 11th, 1918 my grandfather Louis was 23 years old, an army corporal and was in France fighting the Germans. Like many veterans during his life he talked sparingly about what he saw, but one sensed that it had to have been awful and likely beyond our ability to comprehend. He did describe what it was like being in trenches and subjected to mustard gas-blistering of skin, coughing and retching and worse. What would my then 23 year old grandfather have been thinking and feeling as he learned the war was ending?
He, like others, must have been overjoyed to hear that the war was over and that he would be able to return home to his family and that he had survived and that Germany had been defeated. Being an artist he celebrated by carving both sides of the lid of his mess kit. On one side he carved the date and time and what had been our nation’s motto until 1956—“E pluribus unum,” meaning, “out of many one,” referring to the creation of a single nation from many colonies. On the other side an image of Mother Liberty. My grandfather could not have chosen any images that would have better symbolized one’s love for country and American freedom.
The top of Grandpa’s mess kit lid
The inside of the mess kit lid
My grandfather’s mess kit has been in my possession for many years and will always be one of our family’s most precious possessions. I was 23 when my grandfather died-the same age that he was when World War I came to an end. I have often looked at the carvings on his mess kit and wondered about the moments of their creation. As I have grown older, when holding the mess kit, I tear up thinking of him. I know that it is not because he is dead as he lived a very long and full life and I know the pain of losing someone who was far too young to have died. I have come to realize that I become emotional because I did not get to know my grandfather as well as I could and should have and, like others whom I have loved and are gone, it is too late to do so now.
I never thanked my grandfather for many things, including his service to our country.