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Veteran shared Afghan stories with kids

Jared Whitley Of the Record staff
Army Sgt. Ryan Moser shows a ballot from the Afghan election. It uses pictures because so many Afghan are illiterate. Grayson West/Park Record
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Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Sgt. Ryan Moser visited Trailside Elementary School on Friday, one of many ways that Park City schools recognized Veterans’ Day this year. "I think they see (war) in the world and they see it in the news, but it’s just not a reality to them," said second-grade teacher Deb Moser, Ryan’s mother.

An Apache helicopter technician for the Utah National Guard, Ryan Moser served in Afghanistan for a year, coming home in April 2005. Ryan Moser shared pictures, souvenirs, and experiences from Afghanistan with the Trailside children, and answered questions. He showed them a framed ballot from the Afghan election, where people voted for the first time in the country’s history. Voting is a right "granted to them by what the U.S. and other allied countries have done for them," Ryan Moser said. Because so many Afghans are illiterate, the ballot had the candidates’ pictures on them, not just their names, Ryan Moser explained. The veteran showed images of helicopters flying which elicited appropriate "oohs" and "ahhs" from kids as well as pictures of Kandahar City, where he served. "Kind of different from Salt Lake City," Ryan Moser said. Deb Moser taught first-grade last year, and has the same students this year. The kids wrote to Ryan while he was in Afghanistan, but this is the first time they’ve met him. "I think they see so much on the news but it’s just such a world away. Sometimes it’s nice to bring it home to them," Deb Moser said. "I wanted the kids to experience a real person who does those things." Children were eager to ask Ryan Moser about his experience. Questions covered M-16s, helicopter operation and fuel, sandstorms, and the difference between mines in Park City and mines in Afghanistan. "Do you mean the mines that you dig in or the mines that people step on and they blow up?" one boy asked. "Have you ever gotten lost and it took more than a day to come back?" one girl asked. "In Afghanistan, is that a kind of desert?" another girl asked. Children were impressed with Ryan Moser’s pictures of the enormous "camel spider," a scorpion whose body alone is as big as a grown man’s hand.

One of Deb Moser’s students, Colin Lambert, has a father, John, commanding a ship in the Iraqi conflict. Her class and production students from Park City High School are preparing a DVD for troops on the ship for "sharing our gratitude and wishing them a very Merry Christmas," Moser said.

Teachers recognize Veterans’ Day in a variety of ways. Fifth-grade Jeremy Ranch teacher Nickie Farnsworth had students write thank you letters inside a patriotic heart. The letters are published on page B10 of The Park Record.

Seventh-grade Ecker Hill teacher Deb Corrigan’s father, Ed Barfield, served in the Vietnam War when she was in seventh-grade herself. "They were asking me more details about where and how long and was I scared," Corrigan said. "He was gone a year and he wasn’t there for my birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter, but he wrote me all the time. And he didn’t tell me he was in any danger until he got home."

America’s current war feels like Vietnam, "the way things are going now," Corrigan said.

Corrigan and her students discussed the draft lottery during the Vietnam War. She had her students write their birthdays, then she drew them out of a hat to show which students would have been called to war. "I think they felt the impact of it, they joked about it, but it seemed to at least get their attention," Corrigan said.


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