Veterans Day presents unique perspectives


Photos courtesy of Jake Snyder

Snyder during his military service

Aidan McKee, Associate Editor

“Never Forget,” is a battle cry synonymous with the horrific events of September 11th, 2001 and a call that thousands would answer to aid in the fight against an enemy that threatened the very fabric of American life. Jake Snyder was one of those Americans who, after witnessing the tragic events of that September day, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 26 years old. Snyder felt that it was his duty to serve his country in its time of need, and after four years of service, he would return to the life he had fought to protect. While his service had come to an end, Snyder would never cease in his commitment to his country. 

Revere restructured its Veterans Day assembly for the 2022 school year, and to introduce the new format, retired Marine Corp Infantry Rifleman Jake Snyder was invited to share his experiences and provide insight into what Veterans Day truly represents. 

The decision to serve requires one to give up years of their life in devotion to their country, and in some cases, their life, so why would a 26-year-old Snyder choose to join six years later than the average Marine Corps recruit? Snyder explained his decision. 

“I wanted to do my part for this country. I was an able-bodied man, and I knew that serving was the best way I could make that positive impact. I think that people do not realize someone has to sacrifice for many of the freedoms we are granted, and I felt it was my duty to make that sacrifice,” Snyder said.

Another major factor in Snyder’s decision was the military tradition that his family has forged.  Throughout decades of American conflict, the Snyder family has consistently chosen to step up and make the sacrifice to defend the place they call home. Snyder made a note of the military history present within his family.

“My grandfather served with the 82nd Airborne. He passed that influence onto my father, a big Navy guy, and instilled that tradition in my siblings and me. Currently, my nephew is a Marine. As a family, we are very proud of our military tradition, and that has caused us to have great respect for those who serve,” Snyder said.

Specialization is a critical part of how the military runs. When a soldier enlists, they must take the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), a test that determines an enlistee’s choice of MOS (Military Occupational Specialties) or specialization. Out of 100 possible points on the ASVAB, Snyder would score a 98, thus giving him the choice of any specialization within the Corps, but Snyder would choose to sign with an Infantry unit. He explained this choice. 

“When I joined up, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I was sure that Infantry was the place for me, so following Boot Camp, I went straight to Infantry school. Throughout that experience, I would meet guys I am still very close with today, and I was certain that that was what I wanted to do. I was pressured the whole time to choose another specialization like linguistics of IT, but truthfully I just wanted to be the guy kicking down the door,” Snyder said.

Snyder would serve his first enlistment doing precisely what he had hoped for, kicking down doors. Still, there was always that tug coming from back home, the same tug every soldier feels, to be back with their family. So after he had served his four years, he would forever become Corporal Snyder. Snyder explained the tug that led him to retire.

“It was so hard to be away from my son. I missed my mom and dad, but not being with my son was such a constant nagging ache, so after my four years were up, the decision was easy; I was choosing to be with him,” Snyder said.

Transitioning from one’s military service to life as a civilian can be the most challenging part of one’s experience. While a soldier’s job is done, they still carry the scars left from their service, and those scars are what so heavily emphasize military sacrifice. Snyder detailed what going back to everyday life was like.

“I read a statistic that said that it takes you about a year for every year you served to fully readjust to civilian life, so even though I only did four years, that’s another four for me to return to normalcy. There are a lot of things that stuck with me from my service, and a lot of those have really positively impacted my life, but there are also some things that still poke at me,” Snyder said. 

While Snyder has used his experience, the challenge of displaying that impact to others is a difficult one. That is why when he was approached to speak at Revere’s Veterans Day assembly, like many other things in his life, Snyder chose to brave the task. Snyder spoke on what his involvement meant to him. 

Snyder speaks during the Assembly (Aidan McKee)

“It was such an honor, very humbling. I was very grateful to have an opportunity to talk about real stuff and what I experienced with the younger generation. I think it is important for young people to understand that there are veterans their parent’s age. I hope I made an impact that will carry with these students whenever they appreciate their freedoms,” Snyder said.

For Snyder to have been able to create the impact he had, behind-the-scenes hours of work were necessary. Revere High School principal Dr. Andy Peltz was pivotal in the planning process and recommended Snyder be the assembly’s keynote speaker. Peltz explained why he chose Snyder and his relationship with him.

“Jake was my college roommate. I met him at the University of Akron when we were 17 years old, and we grew up together there. The only difference was that I left college and became a teacher, and he left and became a Marine. Our paths crossed almost 30 years ago, and he’s been an influential part of my life since then, ” Peltz said. 

Revere places significant importance on its Veterans Day Assembly, and as principal, Peltz must deal with the expectations of that significance. He explained how the expectations had played a role in the importance he placed on the day. 

“I was just in awe last year. The raw emotion of it, it is far beyond just the symbolic flags and songs; the intentionality of everything makes you pause, and it allows you to truly reflect. Adding that element brings it from plainly a breakfast for Veterans to a time that grants the event the weight and gravity it deserves,” Peltz said.

This year, Peltz had the opportunity to be the assembly’s emcee and helped coordinate the flow of the day. Increased involvement in the day allowed him to appreciate the importance of its events. Peltz explained what the day meant to him. 

 “It was exciting. I felt like I had the opportunity to give back and honor the service of others; before, I had been involved in this type of process, I would say thank you, donate to charities and things like that, but I had never really had the opportunity to be part of an authentic thank you,” Peltz said.

Peltz interviews Snyder during the Q&A session (Aidan McKee)

Jeff Fry is the head of Revere High Schools Social Studies Department, which helps to coordinate the events of the day. This year, the circumstances were slightly different to allow students to gain a stronger sense of what Veterans Day means. Fry explained what changes were made and how they affected the day’s impact. 

“The actual assembly aspect will be very similar to last year, but the main change is our implementation of a Q&A session following the assembly, allowing students to learn more about the speaker. We are trying to make more of a human connection to our speaker, allow students to realize he is more than just a Marine; he is a coach, a husband, a father,” Fry said. 

Aside from thanking those who sacrificed so much for our country, Veterans Day also serves to educate about the importance of service. That is why it is so vital that Revere holds a moment for such education. Fry shared what he hopes the student body will take away from the experience. 

“The whole point is to teach kids about the people who sacrificed so much for us. We all know about Veterans Day, but if we don’t get an opportunity to thank veterans, we will take many of our freedoms for granted. I never served, but I didn’t have to serve because they did, and that’s significant for our students to see that, too, that we have a lot of freedoms, more freedoms than anywhere in the world because people serve,” Fry said.

Nearly 20 years have passed since Snyder’s first enlistment concluded, but he still finds ways to impact his country. Through his involvement in this year’s Veterans Day assembly, he has changed how the next generation will view the sacrifice he and his comrades made; he has made sure they will “Never Forget.”

 To read more about Veterans Day at Revere click here