Museum trip deepens Milford contest winner's appreciation for vets
MILFORD - Last year, Nick Simo wrote an essay about World War II that made him the state winner of the National World War II Museum's Salute to Freedom contest.
Last Friday, he traveled with his father to New Orleans to see the museum's new US Freedom Pavilion for himself.
Simo, 17, a senior at Milford High School, participated in the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, responding to two essay questions in order to show his knowledge of New Hampshire's role in World War II.
He focused on Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and the men and women who built submarines that helped America gain the advantage at sea against enemies from Europe and Japan.
Simo's research and writing won him the top place in New Hampshire in the contest, and last Friday, he and his father traveled to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans to attend a celebration with winners from across America.
"Going to New Orleans with my dad was really good bonding time, for sure," said Simo.
On Friday night, Simo said, he and his dad attended a gala reception at the museum and got to meet veterans of the war as well as other high school students.
On Saturday, the museum held a ribbon-cutting for the U.S. Freedom Pavilion, a new memorial. Simo was given the honor of escorting Jerry Gervais, a World War II veteran from New Hampshire, to the ceremony.
"Jerry served in the Pacific, and it was really great to be able to ask him questions about his experiences in the war when I had a chance to talk with him," said Simo. "He was only 17 or 18 when he went to war, so it was really interesting to think about someone my age going through all that."
Simo also got to hear Tom Brokaw talk about "The Greatest Generation" in a speech the student found inspiring.
"We didn't always live like we do now in this country," he said. "That generation fought for us to have the opportunity to live like this."
The rest of Simo's trip was spent exploring the Big Easy with his father and watching as the city transformed itself in advance of the Super Bowl.
"Me and my dad are both big football fans, so it was great to see New Orleans getting ready for the Super Bowl," he said.