Los Angeles — U.S. history teacher John Corona is a local celebrity of sorts. Every year, for the last two decades, he has brought military veterans to Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California, so they can tell their stories to his students.
"It's one thing to hear me lecture about it. It's another thing to read about it, but when you sit down with somebody who lived it, it puts a whole new perspective on this for students," Corona said.
Junior Maya Moore is writing an essay on retired Army specialist Ronnie Guyer.
"Walking in today, I think I was just a little anxious about how the conversation would get started, but Ronnie was great," she said.
He told her about his service in Vietnam, including some of the more difficult memories.
"I was carrying our dead and wounded," Guyer said.
This year, 300 veterans attended. But they didn't come just for the students, they came for Corona, who is retiring in June, after 40 years of teaching. As a thank you for his service to the community, he was presented a flag that once flew over the U.S. capital.
Corona is modest about his role in all of this. But to the veterans, he is more than just a teacher.
"Mr. Corona has been a guiding light," Guyer said. "I would classify him as a hero."
A hero who is leaving an impact that goes beyond the classroom, for generations to come.
"I can't tell you the number of times veterans have left this program and said to me they feel a whole lot better about the future of our country after having talked to our kids," Corona said.