Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Paying It Forward and the Veterans History Project

One day, a WWII came to my office to get some work done. He mentioned he was a vet and had been in the Army Air Corps. While the boss looked on, we began a conversation. She sort of shook her head, smiled and went back to work. Jim and I have now met several times. The fallout of this meeting ended up with me volunteering to write some of his stories down. He thought that was a grand idea. He's a salesman and can run off on tangents and come back, and doesn't like to write. I like history and now have a face and several stories from so many years ago to place it with. We spent one evening at dinner, me scribbling furiously, as we laughed heartily and tried to get the cheeseburgers down in between him telling of his youthful days and the antics that came with it. After two hours, his wife politely excused herself and went home, having heard the stories, shall I say "several" times. She told us to not rush. About an hour later, as closing time for the restaurant approached, the waitress realized what was going on and kept us in iced tea and root beer. Even after closing, we stood in the parking lot for about 30 more minutes, as he told me more. Jim has the second draft for review now. It's not terribly long, but the six typed pages are slices of history, telling of a real man, in a real war, doing those things men do. Nothing obscene at all, just reality. I'm going to post it here when he and his wife (a school teacher) get done making sure I got it right, in fact and in spelling and grammer. Now, all of this to say this about all of the above. Jim and I were on the phone Friday, scrubbing a few details and Jane asked, in the background "How are you going to repay him?" Jim started to put that question to me, but before he could, I just told him, "Jim, don't worry, you already did from 42-45." There was a few seconds of silence, and we went right back to getting the story squared away. I'm just happy to help him get this recorded, and, his contribution has been paid in full and them some, for what we have. Please check around periodically for the "Adventures of Jim," or whatever I name them, as I'll post it in pieces to cut down the sit in one place commitment requirement. The final piece, will commemorate a very interesting feat of daring, for which Jim was the first to pull it off and it has a specific date associated with it. And with that tease, stay tuned! I urge you to do something like this as well, as we are losing about 1200 WWII vets a day now. The Library of Congress Veteran's History Project has some useful tools to help you in capturing these valuable first person stories. Don't let them go undocumented! Last week, a friend of mine, who served in the Flying Tigers in Desert Storm as a plane captain, had a real, honest, to goodness Flying Tiger, from the AVG, walk into his computer store. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to meeting him, too.


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