On 9/11, Thomas Armas was a Marine. When the World Trade Center collapsed, most people ran for their lives. He ran toward it. Marines, he says simply, are trained to help.
Lt. Col. Armas went on to serve 3 tours of duty, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last week, he told his story on our high school’s TV show, “Good Morning Staples.”
Videos featuring service members are a Memorial Day tradition at Staples. Students in TV Production class spend long hours interviewing; selecting photos and music, and weaving together a compelling, instructive film, which is shown in every class.
This year’s video is one of the best.
With gentle prodding from senior JJ Mathewson, Armas describes that day at Ground Zero, and life in war zones.
But just as compelling are his insights into what it all means.
“People don’t give their lives for their country,” Armas says. “They give it for their hometowns.” That means, he explains, that Americans should have fun on Memorial Day. Going to the beach, a ballgame or barbecue is exactly why men and women have given their lives: so we can enjoy life.
However, he adds, we also have an obligation to give back.
As a Rye native — growing up in an environment very similar to Westport — he “was given the best childhood a person could have.” He gave back what he could by joining the military. He tells Staples students they don’t have to do that — but they should find some way to contribute to their community and their country, using their time and talents to better the lives of others.
The Staples Media Lab’s 2012 Memorial Day video is vitally important. It’s well researched, loving produced and richly rewarding.
It takes less than 15 minutes to watch.
But the lessons may last a lifetime.
Click below to view: