JANESVILLE — In past years, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton history teacher Howard Van Otterloo has known of other schools that have taken trips out East and placed wreaths in honor of a fallen soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
So Van Otterloo decided to make an addendum to the high school’s history trip this week and place a wreath there in honor of the late Janesville soldier, Lt. Michael Fasnacht, who was killed in Iraq in 2005 by a roadside bomb. The tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from various wars and is guarded 24 hours per day by specially trained members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry.
“It’s the most sacred site of the military cemetery,” Van Otterloo said.
JWP takes a trip to Washington, D.C., every other year. But this year students helped plan a larger trip, which will include Philadelphia, Gettysburg, D.C. and New York. Van Otterloo, 27 students and chaperones left Sunday by bus and will return Sunday.
In addition to Arlington National Cemetery, they will visit the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial site, U.S. Capitol, The Pentagon, Supreme Court, Holocaust Memorial Museum and all the presidential monuments, among other places.
Darien Kjolstad, the president of the history club who graduated this spring, helped plan the trip in homeroom. She’s been to New York before, but she’s excited to return. The other sites will be new to her.
“I’ve never been to D.C., so I’m pretty excited about that,” she said.
She also thinks honoring Lt. Fasnacht at Arlington Cemetery will be memorable.
“I think it’s very thoughtful to dedicate that to him,” she said.
Van Otterloo has seen the historic sites before. But it never gets old.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Every time I get a chance.”