RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- An Inland Empire high school student's history project took on a life of its own. She started with a veteran in her own family and was so inspired that she started exploring the other heroes buried at Riverside National Cemetery.
It's impossible to tell the stories of all the veterans at the cemetery.
For Martin Luther King High School senior Katelyn Peterson, just focusing on one of the veterans buried at the cemetery was tough enough.
"I had to do research, a lot of phone calls, to ask questions about what people remembered," Katelyn said.
The veteran who Katelyn was focusing on happened to be her great grandfather. That's what turned this routine high school history assignment into something much more personal.
"I knew he was in the service, and that's pretty much it, I didn't know much about it," she said.
Her great grandfather, Clyde Allen Pray, was born in 1922.
"I found a lot more about how he and my great grandma got married, and he went to the war," she said. "I think my great grandma was 15, and he might have been 17 or 18, pretty young, oh yea very," Katelyn said.
The assignment involved telling these veterans' stories in a book called "Along the Chaparral," and then reading the story to a large crowd gathered at the cemetery.
"I was nervous talking in front of people, but it was OK because I knew my great grandfather, so it was more special," she said.
Katelyn says it was such an interesting and enlightening experience - that she didn't stop with her great grandfather.
"My teacher asked me to do another one. She asked, 'would you like to do another one?' And I'm like yeah, I wouldn't mind," Katelyn said.
She learned a lot along the way - not the least of which, the fact that so many stories out here go unnoticed, but not by her.
"It's so big, because there's so many lives, and so many people who sacrificed. Their stories are just everywhere," Katelyn said.
IE student shines light on stories of veterans buried at Riverside National Cemetery