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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The WWII Generation Enriches Our Lives

Tuskegee Airman Harvey Bayless
and my husband Everett
I’m immersed in WWII. For the past few weeks, I’ve thought of little else, except Christmas shopping.

Rudy Rudolph
I have several simultaneous projects and they all involve WWII. I’m finishing a book about John Bax, who spent his youth in Belgium under Nazi occupation. I’m beginning a project helping Rudy Rudolph tell his experiences as part of the 45th Army Division that fought at Anzio, on the shores of southern France and on up into Germany. I’m writing two articles for the Veteran Family Network magazine; one about the Tuskegee Airmen and another about Jack Myers, a bombardier with the 15th AF in Italy. Added to that, I’m reading Unbroken, the best-seller about Louis Zamperini’s experiences in the Pacific Theater.
I am fascinated with the stories people share with me. I admire these men and women and am grateful that as a generation, they sacrificed so much to protect their country. Whatever their role, their lives were defined by the war. From school children to adults and from Europe to America and the Far East, every person lives with memories of events that shaped their lives then and now. What an impact they had on their world and that of future generations. Society changed because the war demanded new and different roles, blurred gender lines and opened the door to educational opportunities and future racial equality.

The war impacted my life because of my parents and my children’s lives because of me. I’m struck by the chain of events caused by a generation’s actions and by the knowledge that one generation's existence is dependent on the previous generations. I’m lucky because the WWII generation showed the strength and courage to do what was necessary to ensure their children’s futures.
Most of all, I’ve grown to care deeply about the people I’ve met and written about. When they share their stories, they become like family and I am blessed by the gift they give me.

If you are fortunate enough to share your holiday season with someone from the WWII generation, ask them to share their story. You’ll bless them and they in turn will bless you.

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