By John Fitts
On Thursday, Canton High School students had the increasingly rare treat to interact with World War II veterans.
Among the veterans who came to the school for a special morning program were two who served in World War II. They were U.S. Army Sgt. John A. Kostriasak of Canton, who served from April of 1943 to November of 1945 and Nicholas J. Lavnikevich, of Simsbury, a U.S. Navy veteran who served from August of 1942 to October of 1945, and achieved the rank of Chief Pharmacist’s Mate.
The school also honored Morton N. Katz, of Avon, an Army Colonel who served from April of 1942 to May of 1946. Katz was slated to be at the school but was unable to attend.
The three were featured in a short video and James C. Hutton, commander of the Gildo T. Consolini Post 3272 Veterans of Foreign Wars, told an assembly of all high school students how these men, then just in their teens, were called all over the world to places they had never heard of and often couldn’t pronounce.
“They ended up fighting in places you read about in your history books,” he said.
“These veterans here they are the lucky ones,” he later added. “Although they may have been wounded physically or mentally, they survived the war. Over 400,000 of their comrades never came home and even today 7,000 are missing or never accounted for.”
Hutton told students they could be some of the last to meet a World War II veteran.
“Hopefully you’ll remember this day and 40 or 50 years from now you’ll tell your kids or grandkids that you remember seeing World War II veterans at Canton High School,” Hutton said.