Spring on the York College campus

Honoring Veterans

By Samantha Sabatini '20
Father and son, Duane and Jacob Swartz stand along the railing of a mountain for a photo.

Duane Swartz ’92 started a program in 2011 to honor veterans. It involves Northeastern High School’s Honor Buses filled with veterans and bound for the war memorials in D.C. and Virginia. The day is dedicated to the veterans, thanking them for their service. Student and adult volunteers with the program, called guardians, are there to ensure the safety and comfort of the veterans.

Swartz, a Northeastern High School social studies teacher, heard about a similar program in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and felt compelled to bring it to York. His father had served in World War II, but died in 1990. “I can’t take my own father to the World War II Memorial,” he says, “but I can take someone else’s.” Every year since the program began, he’s organized a spring and a fall trip to honor those who’ve served. His son Jacob, a York College senior, has been volunteering for almost all of them since he was 15. Jacob has followed in his father’s footsteps and is devoted to thanking veterans through the Honor Bus program.

For some, this trip is an opportunity to see the memorials dedicated to their service. For others, it’s a chance to heal old wounds. A few years ago, Duane got a call from the wife of a man who’d been a part of the Honor Bus trip in 2015. The woman told Swartz that her husband, a Vietnam veteran, had never talked about the war before the trip. After it though, he’d started to open up and talk about his experience. It changed his life. Shortly before he died of cancer, the man told his wife he wanted to be buried in his Honor Bus T-shirt. That phone call has stuck with Swartz. “Just imagine the impact this is having for some,” he says.