By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Each year, the United States celebrates Veterans Day. There are parades and ceremonies, and sometimes even a day off from work or school. But for kids, particularly those growing up now, it is sometimes easy to forget the sacrifices our veterans have made.
Count the students at the High Rock School among those who won’t be having that problem. The High Rock students had the chance to hear about the experiences of one of their own local veterans with a visit from Charles Sahagian on Friday, November 8.
Students had learned a little bit about their guest speaker during class, but were excited to learn even more. After a quick recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, Sahagian began his presentation. Charles Sahagian grew up in Dorchester. When he was a senior in high school, he was inspired to join the armed forces after completing a poetry project about World War I. At this point, World War II was in full swing.
Following his enlistment, Sahagian was assigned to the 37th Division in the Third Army under General Patton. Sahagian and his fellow men began their time in France and gradually made their way into Belgium. It was there that they engaged in the infamous Battle of the Bulge, where allied forces secured the war and beat back German forces.
After serving for 42 days of uninterrupted combat and suffering an injury, Sahagian was evacuated to England. His time in Europe had taken a toll on him, and he needed to be taken out of combat to recover fully. Once he arrived in England, he was informed that he would be sent to a hospital near his home to finish his recovery - but Virginia (where he was sent) is at least 624 miles from Dorchester. Despite this, Private Sahagian was happy to be back on U.S. soil. Right around Christmas, Sahagian was finally granted full leave and made his way back to Dorchester, where he surprised his entire family. “Total pandemonium broke out,” recalled Sahagian, as his entire family celebrated his return. His mom, who only knew the bare basics of his injury, inspected her son closely before joining the celebration. Other local kids who had suffered injuries hadn’t had the same positive outcome of Sahagian; some were confined to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives.
Following the completion of his story, Sahagian took the time to answer some submitted questions. The first asked if there were other military members living in Needham. Sahagian answered that there were. “It’s hard to believe, but there [were] 14 million people serving in Europe alone,” he replied, adding that Powers Hall is named after another World War II veteran. For his final question, Sahagian was asked what kind of food he ate while in the military. “The food was pretty good, when you had food,” Sahagian began. During his time in Europe, Sahagian lost over 30 pounds. The hospital he was sent to in Virginia was coincidentally a resort and spa. “That was at five-star resort,” he chuckled, “the food was excellent.”
Charles Sahagian’s service to his country is a reminder that keeping the United States safe can come with massive sacrifices. Thankfully, the kids from High Rock School had Mr. Sahagian to keep in their minds as they celebrated their day off from school.