On Friday, Nov. 9, at 9 a.m., U.S. Marine Sgt. James Oefelein, president of the Mercyhurst University Veterans Association, will stand before dozens of strangers – many of them more than three times his age – and tell them how much he owes them. The event, Springhill’s Second Annual Veterans Breakfast, is one of several ways the continuing care retirement community is honoring residents’ pasts.
“Early in Marine Corps training, it is drilled into recruits that moving forward they need to realize they carry the entire history of the Corps on their shoulders and that what they do will define the Corps for future generations,” said Oefelein, 28, a Mercyhurst senior intelligence studies major. “That goes for all veterans and the families who support them. I hope the veterans understand that we appreciate the tradition they left to us and that we’ll carry it with pride and dedication, protecting it as best we can, until it is our turn to pass it on.”
This tradition of dedication and sacrifice Oefelein refers to can be seen on Springill’s Primary Sources: Oral History Project
, which has recorded a handful of residents’ World War II histories – most from the armed services.
“My main focus is going to be making sure that I express my generation’s appreciation for the service of those who have gone before us,” Oefelein said.
Oefelein served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, completing tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan with 2nd LAR Bn. He exited the service as a sergeant, receiving the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device and a Presidential Unit Citation for 2nd LAR Bn.'s service during OEF in summer 2009.