Historians and Heroes – D-Day veteran George Sarros was one of three WWII veterans to tell their personal stories.
Historians and Heroes. Eight decades faded away as another time and place touched us all. The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas opened a window to the past, taking us on a “Walk Through History” led first by those who know it as history and then others who know it as hours and days they lived and survived.
Three Notable WWII Historians
On the first day of our flawlessly organized journey we were joined by not one, or two, but three notable WWII historians: Alex Kershaw, James Scott, and Jonathan Jordan. They have lectured extensively on WWII and published numerous articles as well as nearly 20 books between them, several best sellers included. And all just happen to be riveting speakers, both knowledgeable and lively. Each took on a big topic for their talk: the first hours of Normandy, the Doolittle raid over Tokyo, and the Battle of the Bulge. Inside those large events all three speakers came to the same core message: it was acts of individual courage that carried the day as young soldiers, many barely out of high school, faced terror and devastating harm.
Time to socialize
We also learned that friendship mattered and informed many choices, from battlefield risks to those of generals bearing the weight of lives and success or failure.
Back in the present, an elegant spread of refreshments, along with several well-timed breaks, gave us plenty of time to socialize, chat with the three authors, and very specially with a number of WWII veterans in attendance.
We Bring in the Heroes!
After day one with the experts, how do we follow their act for day two? We bring in the heroes! By incredibly good fortune, we were able to hear separately from three WWII veterans: D-Day veteran George Sarros, P-47 pilot Ed Cottrell, and Battle of Okinawa soldier Milt Fletcher. And we learned the story of kamikaze survivor Joe Cooper.
Each who spoke recounted personal experiences, many of them lived inside the same events we heard about yesterday from the historians. This was some impressive band of soldiers: all having weathered – or closing on – a century of being present, recounting their stories to our group with insight, clarity, and perfect diction! And they are tough stories. Yesterday our experts highlighted the courage of individual soldiers. Now on day two we were face-to-face with the real thing. Our veterans survived dark hours and losses that still resonate today.
We Are Beyond Fortunate
Our WWII veterans are proud of their service. and we are proud with them, and beyond fortunate to honor them yet in person. They bring to life a time of unity and clarity in our nation when what needed to be done suffered little debate and all seemed busy getting it done.
The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas is to be duly commended for this event. It was rich in content and flawlessly smooth in moment-to-moment execution. Importantly, our opportunity to share such remembrance with its living veterans is a window relentlessly closing forever, so three cheers to all making this gathering happen!
A Center and Emotional Home for All Living Veterans
Our wonderful museum is evolving from a local attraction to an institution of regional and even national recognition, all thanks to both its dedicated volunteers and by casting itself as a center and emotional home for all living veterans.