Recently, 18 Lake George High School students in grades 9-12 flew to New Orleans to participate in the Gary Sinise Foundation’s “Soaring Valor” program, which pairs students and veterans together to tour The National WWII Museum built in their honor. While touring the museum with their veterans, students learned first-hand about their experiences, which created a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by an entire generation. It was an eye-opening experience for many students. “It was a great experience. I signed up not knowing a lot about the program, but as I got to know Hank, my veteran, I felt really attached to him and his story,” said senior Emery Carl. “Hank talked about his childhood and what it was like going to war when he was just my age. I couldn’t believe the bravery of our veterans and what it meant to be a part of something so courageous.” For two days, students from different states enjoyed entertainment, celebration dinners, and the opportunity to bond with the heroes of WWII. “Being able to participate with the Gary Sinise Foundation in the Soaring Valor program was an incredibly special and humbling experience. The connection that students were able to make with their veterans will carry on much longer than their two-day trip,” said Ryan Seymour, Lake George Jr.-Sr. High School math teacher and trip coordinator. “We were very fortunate to be a part of this experience, and I know that every student, chaperone, and veteran walked away from this with a much different perspective on life and the war. I am very thankful that Lake George was able to participate in this event.” Sinese became involved in helping veterans in 2006, and started The Gary Sinise foundation in 2011, with the mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, Gold Star families and those in need. In 2015, after visiting the New Orleans institute with his veteran uncle, he started the Soaring Valor program to ensure the legacy of as many veterans as possible. Each veteran is seen as a “living library” and their own personal stories are recorded to be archived for generations to explore. Two years later, he invited students to participate. To date, 203 students from across the country have accompanied veterans in this experience and 1,121 veterans have archived their stories. For information about the program visit garysinisefoundation.org. For information on the museum visit nationalww2museum.org.