Brockport students interview veteran and author

By on November 25, 2019
Ryan Smithson shared his experiences as a 19-year-old GI.

Ryan Smithson shared his experiences as a 19-year-old GI.

A military veteran-turned author met with Brockport High School students November 19, giving them a first-hand look at his experience while living in a warzone.

The personal presentation is the culmination of BCSD’s One School, One Book project, which involves students and staff reading the same book while engaging in conversations about the chosen topic.

Ryan Smithson’s story begins after watching the Twin Towers fall. “I remember my teacher telling us ‘you guys are living history right now.’ I had never thought of history as being alive. 9/11 changed my perspective, it changed the world,” Smithson shared with the BHS students.

Smithson said the experience shook him into reality; pushing him to join the Army Reserves. In 2004, he was deployed to Iraq with the Army Corps of Engineers where he experienced the fear and friendships forged through war. Upon returning home, and finding himself on a college campus, Smithson began an essay for English class on his combat experience. Those papers eventually turned into his memoir, Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-year-old GI.

He told students the writing process was the first time he was able to process everything he experienced, with his professor encouraging him to share the stories. “I didn’t know it at the time, but her husband worked with incarcerated veterans through the VA,” he told students, explaining his professor was the perfect person to read his stories and guide him through the process at that time.

Students then had a chance to ask Smithson questions, including a one-on-one interview with student journalists.

One School, One Book is the district’s continued goal to promote literacy while fostering connections and building understanding and empathy. More information can be found at https://libguides.monroe2boces.org/c.php?g=941098.

Provided information and photos

Student journalists had the opportunity to interview Ryan Smithson (right).

Student journalists had the opportunity to interview Ryan Smithson (right).