Veterans of Cleveland

Several teachers and staff at Cleveland reflect on their years of military service and how it has impacted their lives

Clarion photo Graphic by Lily Beeson-Norwitz

By Lily Tewfik, Reporter

Veteran’s Day is a time to celebrate and honor those who have served for their country, and to think about the sacrifices they made in doing so. There are five known staff members at Cleveland who had the opportunity to serve in the military: head football coach Eric Fraser, physics teacher Rafael Bobenrieth, drama teacher Tom Beckett, bookkeeper Rachel Spires, and vice principal Darryl Miles.

Fraser, a freshman science teacher, joined the Army in 1996 and served until the year 2000. “I wanted to join the military because it was the closest thing I could imagine that would be a similar experience to being on a sports team. That was really the only thing that kept me engaged in high school,” said Fraser.

Fraser enjoyed studying military tactics and strategy, but the opportunity to earn the G.I. Bill and Army College Fund so he could attend college afterwards was another big factor in enlisting. This fund is a program that issues extra money to chosen recipients to help them pay for their college tuition after their service. Fraser was grateful to receive the scholarship, and he also thanked the Army for teaching him several useful skills, such as organization and prioritization of tasks, and felt grateful for the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life.

“It was also awesome to be exposed to people from several cultures and backgrounds that allowed me to understand how some people from other parts of the world view the world,” said Fraser.

Through working in the Army, Fraser also learned how to take orders from authority figures, something that has been very beneficial to him. His time in the Army is a positive part of his life and he is thankful for the opportunity, “In the end, I am glad that I did it, and would do it all over again if I had the choice.”

Bobenrieth, a physics teacher, was in the Navy. He enrolled in the United States Naval Academy hoping to develop himself as a person, and because the idea of serving his country appealed to him. He enjoyed his time, and took many lessons out of it.

“The military gave me a sense of discipline and camaraderie. It also taught me the value of hard work and sacrifice,” said Bobenrieth. He said that he is very grateful for the opportunity to learn about himself during his service. According to him, exposure to high-stress situations taught him a lot about himself, which has been very beneficial in the rest of his life.

“Even though you may sometimes fall painfully short of a goal, those are tremendous opportunities for long-term growth and development,” he said, of one of the most important lessons he took out of being in the military.

Even though it wasn’t always the most enjoyable experience, Bobenrieth is glad he was able to have his experiences in the Navy. He considers himself a much better person because of his time in the military, and looks back at his time fondly. According to Bobenrieth, he knew very quickly that he didn’t want to have a career in the Navy, but he enjoyed his time nonetheless.

Beckett, the drama teacher, served four years in the Army, including a tour in Operation Desert Storm. The U.S. military-led coalition of forces invaded Iraq to oppose Saddam Hussein, who had defied the United Nations’ demand to withdraw from neighboring Kuwait.

Miles entered into the Navy due to lack of money for college, and inadequate grades to qualify for a scholarship. According to Miles, being in the military helped him grow as a citizen, and grow as person. He learned life-long skills such as responsibility and how to be dependable.

Miles is not regretful of his decision to enlist, not only because he was able to travel around the world three times, but also because he learned that if he worked hard, he could achieve anything, regardless of his skin color.

Veteran’s Day may have already happened in 2017, but there is never a bad time to think of the sacrifices that Veterans make to fight for and protect our country.