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Finding Veterans for a Film

Discussion in 'Those Who Served' started by Chris Dennett, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. Chris Dennett

    Chris Dennett New Member

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    Hello all,

    Forgive me if this topic has come up before or if there is a better location for this thread. Hopefully you'll understand from the content of this post why I feel this demands it's own prominent thread. I just joined the forums and introduced myself, but I'll include a quick intro here for context.

    I am a young-ish (29) historian and film maker, undergoing a project entirely commissioned by myself. Driven by the concern that the Greatest Generation is fading and that my distracted millennial peers aren't noticing, I have appointed myself a mission of tracking down as many veterans around the world, to film a conversation with them, and present their stories in a way that is relevant to my generation and those to come. My goal is to give the Greatest Generation a voice that resonates with the youth, regardless of whether or not they are interested in history. I am not a journalist and have no political motive other than to mobilise current and future governments to ensure the sacrifices of these men and women continue to be commemorated and remembered.

    Given the fortuitous connections I've formed over the years, I am confident that this will get the exposure it deserves. I've had tremendous response across the globe thus far and it's taking me to some interesting places, but I've been shocked to find how useless museums and regimental associations have been when asked for their assistance with me either being fobbed off to their media department or met by general apathy. They fail to realise that time is literally running out, that I am not a journalist but simply someone trying to do, in a recent veteran I'd met's words, "...a good thing." But; what better place to ask for assistance than the WWII Forums?

    With that said, I pose the questions below:

    1.) Are there any members on this forum who fit this criteria who would be willing to participate in this project?
    2.) Are there any members on this forum, who are related to/acquainted with veterans who they feel would be willing to participate in this project?

    This is globally encompassing, and I'm interested in people of all races and creeds.

    I fully intend to become an engaged member of this forum and contribute to other discussions, but as you can imagine, this is a highly demanding project, hence why I'm asking for your expertise in the first instance.

    Many thanks in advance,

    Chris
     
  2. PThompson

    PThompson New Member

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    Chris,

    I'm new to this forum but I think I can answer some things for you. I hope this makes sense to you and I'm just being honest.

    It's been almost 72 years since WWII ended. I doubt you would ever find a Veteran that isn't in there 90's. That said, at 90+ years old, the majority probably won't be willing to speak with you. According to the information obtained from one site: "In 2013 there were more than 1.7 million Americans alive who served in World War II, but according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, around 620,000 American veterans from the war are estimated to still be alive as of 2016."

    If this information is 100%, that would mean that of the 1.7 million Veterans still alive in 2013, 1,080,000 of them passed away from 2013 to 2016. There may be a few that would be willing to speak with you but it won't be many.

    As for the museums, they are not there to help you find these Veterans, arrange meetings, give you lists, or tell you how to find that information. They preserve that generation and are very protective of it. Plus, many of the people you may speak with have an interest in what they do and why, but then again, maybe not... is it just a job to them? You may be speaking with the wrong people.

    Your intentions sound noble and if that's true, I appreciate someone of your age and generation that is willing to step forward and try to make people understand what sacrifices were made not only in WWII but in "ALL" wars... Those sacrifices that allow a young generation to voice its opinion without being lined up and shot. I could get on my soap box but I won't put you through that. No, they don't understand, and I think your enthusiasm is fantastic. However, your introduction does seem a little angry or aggravated and those museums you are being a little negative about are loved by the ones that "DO" understand... Maybe a different approach would be better.
    And last, I will tell you that you are asking for information from a generation of a brotherhood that is held close, protected and guarded. You say you are a Historian, that's great! But where is your connection to this generation? Until people like the ones that are on this forum and especially people of that generation with ties to the War, feel and believe your compassion for the Veterans and the War itself, what it meant, what it did, respect and honor for those who severed, then, you aren't going to get any further than you are.

    Just my two cents and I hope you take what I've written constructively as it is intended.
     
  3. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    Might consider interviewing Korean and Vietnam veterans before they are all gone...
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    ANZAC day here says there are still a bunch living and compus-mentos...I know, special (badly spelt) Latin and everything!
     
  5. KMZgirl

    KMZgirl Member

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    How would you find them? Perhaps a letter to the editor sent to numerous small newspapers? Most elderly still read them.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    An RSL here in Australia...(returned serviceman league) surely there's something similar in the US?
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    American Legion and VFW might be the equivalents and a good place to start.
     
    CAC likes this.
  8. LoriAnn

    LoriAnn Active Member

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    I wish you luck with this, Chris. It's a wonderful project!

    My father is a Veteran. I think he would have been happy to chat with you years ago, but now his mind and memory fail him (though it seems the older the memory, the easier it is for him to locate).

    Over the years, I have talked with him about his time. He would have told you that he entered late in the war, didn't see heavy combat (a skirmish here and there...I love how he says that so lightly), and that a good chunk of his time was spent guarding German POWs. His brothers saw much heavier combat, but of course, they are long gone.

    Continued safe travels and keep us up to date on your progress! :)
     

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