Veterans have so many stories to tell
Published 7:25 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2017
When I interviewed World War II veteran Jim Nix in downtown West Point last Friday, time went by quickly. When I looked down at my phone as I pressed the stop button on my audio recorder app, an hour and five minutes of recording flashed back at me. It felt like we talked for 25 minutes at most going over how he grew up in the depression, his experiences in the war in the South Pacific and his life afterwards.
Nix was really appreciative and humble when I talked to him. He felt like he didn’t deserve an interview for our veteran of the week spotlight.
“I remember World War I veterans, and they were a real oddity. I guess there’s so few of us left that we have become that same thing to most people. We’re the kind of oddities that people want to know more about, what we’ve done, things of that nature,” Nix said.
I was excited to meet him. He saw the U.S. flags raised in Iwo Jima and survived one of the more dangerous parts of the war.
Although I haven’t written many military veteran features, I enjoy writing and sharing them. Older people have stories to tell, and these veterans have so much to say, that I could probably write a novel on their individual experiences.
One thing I noticed when I interviewed Nix, Hugh and Getta Headrick, was how they all thanked me for being patient and spending so much time with them.
While we can look up the events online or study them in school, we can never truly understand the magnitude of the events like we can when we talk to someone who was there.
Like Nix said, World War II veterans are becoming harder to find.
To hear their vibrant stories of times when photos were mainly black and white and is a great experience. The world is obviously an entirely different place now.
No matter how much time has passed, when veterans recall their stories to me, it always feels present and vibrant.
When Hedrick went through a binder of old photos from his service in the Army Airforce, he seemed to recall those photos as if they were taken the day before.
Speaking with these veterans, hearing and writing their stories and simply spending time with them makes my job great.
It’s worth taking the time to talk to those oddities.