Kennedy students relive history with a hero


For the fourth straight year, students at John F. Kennedy High School were exposed to living history.

Bernie Rader, a former World War II prisoner, shared his experiences serving in France as part of a 55-man patrol in the Ninth Infantry Division. The veteran spoke with Advanced Placement American history and Gilder Lehrman foreign policy students at the school, which serves south Bellmore and south Merrick, on Oct. 30.

Rader, who received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, spent 45 days in a German prisoner of war hospital after being wounded by mortar fire and captured by the Germans in Brittany, France. He was released as part of an unprecedented prisoner of war exchange in November 1944.

June Rader, Bernie’s wife, accompanied him for his presentation. His sister, Gloria Katz, also visited Kennedy to discuss what life was like for those on the home front during the war.

District officials said students learned more about history through Rader’s perspective during a question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation.

Karen McGuinness, Kennedy’s social studies chairwoman, said the department has been fortunate to have the Raders and Katz visit their students for the past four years. She added that she was pleased that Bellmore-Merrick students had the chance to meet a “real hero” like Rader.