I was at Governors Island this morning, where another volunteer and I interviewed a First Army veteran via telephone. The man was 97 and quite sharp; he remembered his years of service with great eloquence and clarity. It really is a privilege speaking to individuals such as this. I mean, it is unforgettable. This former lieutenant colonel graduated from Gettysburg College in 1941 and served in Europe during the Second World War. He grew up in Gettysburg and told us that when he was sixteen years old Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s motorcade passed his house en route to the ceremony for the lighting of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial at the Gettysburg 75th anniversary in 1938. He even had a job making 50 cents and hour putting up the tents for the aged Civil War veterans in attendance.
One thing that made today’s interview that much more poignant is that we had a young man with us for the first part of the session who himself will be heading off to Gettysburg College in two weeks to begin his freshman studies. That is, this morning we had an 18-year-old young man speaking with a 97-year-old WW2 veteran who once aided Civil War veterans in attendance to see FDR mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in the presence of living Civil War veterans. That’s some crazy stuff. Our subject also recalled seeing General Eisenhower around town in Gettysburg, the president and his wife of course residing there for many years in the only house they ever owned. All in all it was an amazing morning.