CHESTER — “I believe that, for the future of the country, there is nothing more important than teaching the principles of liberty to young Americans — that is what we did.”
That was the message of Victor Smith, a veteran of World War II and Vietnam, about the Vacation Liberty School held recently at the Chester Community Center. He was one of several participants including retired teachers and political leaders, Republican and Democrat, who participated in this first school geared exclusively to teaching children the concepts of liberty.
Smith displayed the sword and scabbard he carried at West Point during his junior year and at graduation. He emphasized the sacrifice of military persons who serve their country.
“Upon entering the service, each one signs a blank check, payable up to and including the amount of his or her life,” Smith commented.
Veteran Dale Colburn showed the children two of his Army uniforms and talked about the significance of medals and stripes.
For the evening classes, some of the volunteers wore period costumes representing past leaders of liberty. A variety of games was played, and Springfield banker Andy Rosenberger was there to trade play paper money for gold nuggets (hard candies) as the children redeemed their money at a makeshift store. Through the bargaining game, he illustrated such concepts as inflation and loans. Some of the volunteers wore period costumes to enhance their lessons in liberty.
The children wrote letters to veterans which were delivered to them, along with gifts, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Chillicothe on the last day of the Liberty Vacation School. While there, they visited a state park and a museum.
Attendance at the school averaged 12 children ranging from six to 15 years old. Volunteers came primarily from Meigs and Gallia counties, with some representation from Washington and Clark counties.
Sponsors included Farmers Bank and Savings Company and McClure’s Restaurant.