95-Year-Old World War II Veteran Teaches History He Lived Through

World War II Veteran Works as Substitute Teacher

Photo: kasto/Depositphotos

Not many history teachers have first-hand experience of their subject matter. However, one educator in Southern California is able to share his stories from living through the Great Depression, offering a personal perspective on many events that we are accustomed to only reading about. Gene Arnold is a 95-year-old World War II veteran who turned to teaching after returning from overseas, and has no plans to retire as a substitute anytime soon.

Arnold was born in the late 1920s, just as the Roaring 20s came to a close and the Great Depression began. It was a difficult period to live through, and for many, finding food was not easy. There also weren't as many services available to students at schools. “We didn't have the cafeteria like you do now,” he tells his students. “Kids either brought their lunch, or they didn't eat.”

Following the Great Depression, Arnold enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War II. Upon leaving the service, he chose to work in education—a field that he remains passionate about to this day. “I felt and still feel that there's a big need for people to be in the classroom, people who want to be there,” he says. The fact that he is able to recall from many of his lived experiences lets him talk in depth about certain points of history. “Well you say, how do you remember that? I'm old!” he laughs. “Old people remember things that happened a long time ago, but we can't remember what we did this morning.”

While many things have changed between the early 1900s and today, Arnold is still able to relate to his students in many ways, especially in regards to recent challenges that came along with the pandemic. Eighth grader Luke Scalero says: “He understands us, and he can relate to us, because he went to school in a dark time too. And we were around during COVID and he was too.”

Arnold's long life and varied experiences is proof that we can all learn from history.

95-year-old WWII veteran Gene Arnold works as a substitute teacher, and is able to share his personal experiences on events from the past.

h/t: [ABC7]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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