About Living History Day
Living History Day was conceptualized by Ken Buckles, a Milwaukie High School (MHS) teacher and alumni, as a unique way to educate students about the true meaning behind Veteran's Day. The first Living History Day was held at MHS in 1996 and has to grown to schools all over the State of Oregon and a few around the United States.
For 15 years Living History Day at MHS was something that students, teachers, and Veterans all look forward to each year. Students decorated hallways and classrooms, fundraised, and volunteered for Remembering America's Heroes year-round. Some teachers based their lesson plans on the experiences of the Veterans or guests that come into their classrooms to speak. The Veterans looked forward to sharing their first-hand stories with students and seeing old friends; many have stated it was a time of personal healing.
There were many components to MHS's Living History Day, including the Gold Star Assembly, the Assembly of Honor, the Veterans Luncheon, and an extensive indoor and outdoor museum with military memorabilia, vehicles, and artwork. Please visit the Videos section to view a highlight video from the 2007 MHS Living History Day.
Shortly after Remembering America's Heroes became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2002, we began taking Living History Day on the road to other schools throughout the state of Oregon. Clackamas High School, Putnam High School, Redmond High School, Dayton High School, Nestucca Valley Middle School, Gervais High School, Pendleton High School, Barlow High School, and Reynolds High School have all hosted their own unique Living History Day program. We have brought Veterans to speak to students during an assembly to Jesuit High School, Oregon City High School, LaSalle High School, and Canby High School in Oregon, and Balou High School, Dunbar High School, and Howard University in Washington DC. Other Veteran speaking engagements have included churches, The Oregon State Penitentiary and many service organizations.
Assembly of Honor
This event was held in the Milwaukie High School Gym from 1996 to 1999 and from 2002 to 2010. Veterans marched in to the gym by war and branch to a standing-room-only student body and a rousing standing ovation. It was a very emotionally powerful experience for the Veterans, as most openly wept. For many, it was the first time they had ever been honored, recognized and thanked for their sacrifices. The honored Veterans have always included four WWI Veterans, (all are now deceased), Veterans from WWII, Korean War, The Vietnam War, The Cold War, and other conflicts, including the Persian Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. The students with professional artists then performed a variety of musical, comedy, and dance routines from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. This was our way of saying "thank you" to all the Veterans.
The event's popularity and recognition had grown so immensely that we had outgrown our facility at the high school. We decided that this was too moving an experience to keep to ourselves, so we decided to share it with the Portland, OR community. We rented the Memorial Coliseum (capacity 12,000), recruited other high schools and formed a choir of over 400 students, a high school honor band of 150 students and included them in our show. Over 3,000 Veterans and their spouses were honored, tripling the number from our high school gym.
In 2001, it was moved to the Rose Garden Arena (capacity 22,000) as the attendance doubled. The Veterans, Assembly of Honor Show now involved approximately 30 Portland-area high schools in choir, band, student ushers, and performers. Approximately 2,000 high school students were involved with this show. The choir had grown to approximately 900, the high school honor band to 255, a high school orchestra and community college jazz band, dozens of student performers, with the remaining students working as ushers escorting Veterans from the parking lots to their seats. This two-hour program saluted Veterans, including current service men and women. Among those special guests attending previous year's program were: Ross Perot, Naval Academy Alum, Navy, Oregon's own Katie Harmon, Miss America, and Bob Bush, Marines, Navy Corpsman,WWII, Medal of Honor recipient.
Every High School has incorporated an Assembly of Honor too as part of their Living History Day event.
Because these events became so popular, Jim Page, Vietnam Veteran, Navy Corpsman, and Kathy Page, Army, retired Colonel , helped me form a non-profit corporation. Milwaukie High School students chose our name based on the fact that the students believe that the true heroes throughout history have been our Veterans.
Veterans and Veteran Organizations have donated generously to Living History Day and Assembly of Honor Show since 1996. In fact, were it not for Veteran-related donations, our programs could not exist today.
It is absolutely amazing that these special individuals served their country, made incredible sacrifices decades ago and still give their time and money today so that high school students can learn and understand from their experiences, honor them and remember the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice and never came home.