Saturday, September 22, 2007

Calling All W.W. II Vets

To share your WWII story with WSRE, please call (850) 484-1236, 1-800-239-9773 or e-mail
PBS stations around the nation, including Pensacola's WSRE-TV, this Sunday evening will begin airing Ken Burns' latest documentary "The War." It's about the American experience in W.W. II.

Unlike other Burns documentaries, this 7-part series doesn't attempt a comprehensive history of the war itself in all its diplomatic, military, and social dimensions. Instead, it concentrates on the two theaters of war in which America was most engaged, Europe and the Pacific, and the "extraordinary tales" of "ordinary people," as a promo for the series describes.

Burns lately has been on tour, explaining that he embarked on making the film with some sense of urgency because the men and women who lived through the "good war" are elderly, now, and dying at an alarming rate. He wants to preserve as many of their stories for later generations as possible. This has inspired local PBS affiliate WSRE-TV to do the same.

It well may be there are more retired W.W. II veterans, per capita, here in the Florida panhandle than anywhere else in the world. So, the local educational TV station has put out a general call for "World War II veterans, their families and citizens who lived through the conflict." They want to preserve your personal memories of that truly momentous time in our nation's history:
Here's what we have planned in conjunction with The War: Producing a local documentary about the impact of World War II on the Gulf Coast Area. On-air vignettes featuring local World War II veterans, their families and citizens who lived through the conflict. These vignettes will begin airing in July and run through November.

A special television program created from the vignettes called "Gulf Coast War Memories" will air later this year.
The station also is partnering "with the Library of Congress to facilitate a training workshop for teachers, students, families and individuals to instruct them on gathering oral histories from veterans."

Before her death just last week, Lil Kamphus, thankfully, was interviewed by WSRE-TV. Her fascinating W.W. II memories will be included in one of the local supplements to be aired immediately following the Burns documentary. Although she is sorely missed by all who knew her, it's a comfort to know that some part of Lil's life will always be with us.

Just knocking around the beach and in town we've met and become friends with several other W.W. II veterans. We know there are many thousands more who live elsewhere, now, but passed through the Pensacola area at some point during the war.

"Ordinary people?" Perhaps, but almost all of them really did have extraordinary experiences. For the benefit of future generations, it's imperative their memories be preserved.

Regardless of where you may live, if you are a vet, or know someone who is, please contact WSRE-TV at the phone or email numbers above. We ask for just this one last act in service to your country: tell us how it really was.

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