Averett University Students Form Tight Bonds with Local Veterans

Danville, VA-- All over the nation communities have gathered together this weekend to honor and celebrate those who have served our country.

Danville had their annual Veterans Day parade Sunday afternoon, but for one particular group riding those floats was extra special.

The group is formed with people from Averett University and the local DAV.

Some of students have developed close friendships with some of the veterans through a War and Literature class, so the parade was sort of like a mini reunion.

Every year, southside residents young and old, gather on Main Street in Danville to salute those who have put their life on the line to protect our country's freedom.

It's a special moment for all who participate, especially this group. It all started at the beginning of an Averett University War and Literature class.

"I decided to have the students meet with a veteran partner and discuss the themes of the literature and the conversations grew into veterans experiences, the veterans reactions to the literature and they certainly did bond," said Tony Gazda, Averett University English professor.

"When I first met Jme we talked for probably about two hours," said Lee Walker, a Vietnam Veteran.

'You can read the poetry, you can read the stories, it's not the same talking to someone who has been there and done that," said Janet Robertson, Commander of DAV Chapter 19.

"It was really cool to just be able to sit down and hear his experiences and it kind of brings all of what you've been reading and seeing come to life because your getting his first hand experiences," said Kerri LaPrade, an Averett University student.

The bonding continued outside of the student's class assignments.

"We spent a long weekend together in Washington D.C., we went to the war memorials," said Gazda.

Although the class ended in the spring, the friendships didn't.

"They were all just on my mind so I wanted to call and check up on them and see what they had been up to and didn't want them to forget about me, because I would never forget about them," said Jme Myers, an Averett University student.

This was the first time Averett University offered the service learning program as part of a class. They said it was great a success, and the veterans thought so also.

They'll be offering the course again in the Spring.