Penn Manor art teacher Jenny Steffy was paging through a book about Veterans Day recently to prepare for an art project when she made a startling discovery: On the last page of the book was a photo of her uncle.
Steffy did a double take when she recognized the full-page black-and-white image of her Uncle Tim Groff, his head bowed, on a blustery day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“I was pretty shocked. I had no idea the photo was in the book,” said Steffy, who recognized her uncle by the “iconic” black hat he was wearing. “It was just a really neat thing because I was going to use another book, but just happened to borrow this one from a teacher.”
Groff, who passed away three years ago, had served with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War aboard the USS Carter Hall, a dock-landing ship. He received the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars for his service.
The discovery of his photo came about as Steffy was researching Veterans Day for a project that involved second-graders making paper poppies in honor of veterans. Students at Martic and Letort Elementary Schools will wear the poppies Monday, when Martic hosts a Veterans Day ceremony, and Tuesday, which is Veterans Day.
Steffy said her family knew about the photo, which apparently was taken as Groff visited the monument in the 1980s. The Associated Press distributed the picture, and it was published in newspapers around Veterans Day several years ago, but Steffy never knew it appeared in a children’s book — until now.
“I took the book to show my dad, Tim’s brother, and we got a bit choked up about it,” she said. “He was speechless at first, then he asked me, ‘How many of these can we order?’”
For Steffy, the discovery gave new meaning to her Veterans Day art project.