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Iraq War Veteran Tammy Duckworth Leaves District 205 Students With Plenty to Think About on 11-11-11

Duckworth relayed the message of Veterans Day and her own personal service to captive audiences at York and Edison.

Iraqi War veteran Tammy Duckworth began this Veterans Day in the warm embrace of the students and staff at and .

Duckworth joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps as a graduate student at George Washington University, and was called to active duty in Iraq in 2004. She continues to serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Duckworth, who in many ways has become the face of the American veteran, had a story to tell the students at York, her first stop at 8 a.m. (See accompanying video.)

She recalled for the thousands in the York gymnasium how, on Nov. 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by rocket-propelled grenades over Iraq. She told them how one of those RPGs exploded in her lap, severing both her legs and ripping off the back of her right arm. She spoke of her comrades, who saved her life, and of the importance of each member of the armed forces to their team, even down to the lowest rank.

The York gym, filled to capacity, fell silent as students hung on the words of the Purple Heart veteran.

But it wasn't all somber. Duckworth, who injected plenty of humor into her speech, said Veterans Day should be "a joyful day to celebrate this nation and the men and women who serve this country."

Students also heard from other local veterans, including Bill Shanklin of the Elmhurst American Legion, who told the students he learned the virtues of respect, confidence, humility, responsibility, integrity, courage and leadership in the military.

They heard from veteran and York Counselor Bill Gardner, who explained the importance of tradition, and York assistant cross country coach Clyde Ware, who explained that students are just as important to the country's future as veterans.

"My fear when I accepted this opportunity (to speak) was that you would leave here and go on with the rest of your day, and forget what you've heard here," Ware said.

That appears unlikely after Duckworth's presentation, which left them all something to think about.

Duckworth concluded her time in Elmhurst at Edison School, where she shared an age-appropriate message for students, entertained their questions and posed for photographs.

John D. Said, AICP November 14, 2011 at 08:01 PM
A snapshot of our society that comments turned to politics...how pathetic. Can there be a reasonable non-partisan conversation about heroes without it spiraling down into political theater? Apparently not. But know this: the life and limb given by those that have served this country from 1775 to the present day isn't Republican, Democratic, Tory, Whig, Fascist, Communist or anything else. These honorable veterans deserve infinitely more than cheap political talk.
MIKE November 15, 2011 at 01:10 PM
John - Give me a break, you sound like the Renaissance Man. Tammie decided to enter politics and it is dirty. She has NEVER held an elected office and thinks she can go to D.C. just like that. I am not republican nor democratic and often vote either or independent if there is one. The point was Duckworth is being packaged by the Dems. as a hero, which she is, but is not from IL, not from DuPage and is not going to be my rep.
John D. Said, AICP November 15, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Thanks for proving my point.
NancyC November 16, 2011 at 07:22 PM
Yup ritgar and Lived in 5 other metro areas..., I watched and listened to the entire speech and I am proud that my son expects a "hero" to insight thoughts elevated a little higher than the gutter. Don't be naive either. Did you notice the inventory she took on the number of 17 year old's in the audience? She now has name recognition when they go to the ballot box for the first time in their lives.
Lived in 5 other metro areas... November 18, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, speak in different languages with and without 'language' and politics. You're underestimating our young people's ability to reason. And I'm sure you're intimating that Duckworth had alterior motives relating to your comment about her taking inventory. Generalizing will get you into arguements, but not with me. Time to leave you to yourself.

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