LEMONT – When U.S. Army National Guard Infantryman Jonathan Farmer visited St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School on Veterans Day, the teachers were struck by the stature of the boy who graduated from their school in 2006.
“I wasn’t surprised that he came back as a member of the military, but I was surprised by how tall he had become,” said physical education teacher Joel Munyon.
Farmer, 21, spoke to students during the morning prayer about his experience in the military and how it has helped him grow closer to God.
Farmer said he first wanted to join the military after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11. He made an agreement with his parents that he would try college for a year, and if he didn’t like it, he could join the army.
He is stationed at the Pontiac Armory in Pontiac, Ill., where he serves on the mortar squad.
Farmer said he wanted to speak at his elementary school to prove to the students what an alumnus could accomplish.
“I just wanted to show everyone how I went to St. Pat’s since preschool and had the same teachers as they did,” he said.
Farmer said his main message was the importance of his Catholic faith in his life.
He said his faith diminished after he graduated from St. Al’s/St Pat’s and went to Lemont High School, but it returned even stronger after joining the military.
He said he has spent a lot of time praying and reading the Bible since joining the army.
Farmer said he has also learned a greater respect for people of other faiths that he works with.
“We all fight on the same team,” he said. “When it really gets down to going to war, you’re all brothers.”
Munyon said seeing that Farmer remembers his lessons of faith and commitment is rewarding.
“I’m sitting there and I’m just like ‘This is why I do what I do,’” he said.
In Munyon’s eyes, Farmer – who was the second smallest kid in his class when he graduated – has grown in many ways.
“In just listening to some of his experiences he shared with students, I found myself looking up to him in some ways,” he said.