Wilson Middle School students on Thursday paid tribute to the men and women of the armed forces by giving a raucous welcome to several 20th Century war heroes, including a World War II veteran who met Adolf Hitler as an athlete at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
The Veteran's Day assembly has become a highlight on the school's annual calendar, said teacher and organizer Peter Regli. Wilson students are introduced to some of the nation's greatest war heroes, both via documentaries and in person. And the celebration, along with the opportunity to meet military veterans, adds a tangible dimension to the coursework, Regli said.
"They should see that [the veterans are] the reason we even have a country, and they should be thankful to those people who gave us our country and kept our country going," Regli said.
In addition to Olympic runner turned veteran Louis Zamperini, this year's guests included Glendale native and First Class Petty Officer Bryan Ross, who served on the USS Iowa during the Korea War and fighter pilot Bob Gilliland, who set several aviation records for speed and altitude while flying the SR-71 Blackbird.