Interview with a Veteran
There aren’t many of him left…World War II veterans, that is.
Gervase lived through the depression and served in World War II, traveling all over the world. He described some of his adventures and travels in the Navy and remembers the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
He married his sweetheart. She was a waitress and they met while he was working at a filling station. She was dating his cousin at the time. As destiny would have it, he asked her for a date. They were married and remained married for 65 years. Repeat. (think sound of scratched record)
65 years! She left this world a few months ago without him. “That is why I am here.” he sighs.
He and his wife, Nadine, ran a campground in North Myrtle Beach for a time. It was called Sherwood Forest Camp Ground. His kids spent some of their growing up time there. The place was sold, changed names, moved, and the land used for malls. But people still remember the years of their childhood spent there. One mom in our group stayed at Sherwood Forrest in the 1970’s as a girl on vacations with her family. It is a small world.
His dates were fuzzy and he couldn’t always remember events in chronological order…
But you should have seen his face light up when he spoke of his grandmother. His eyes danced thinking about her. “She was a character,” he told us dreamily. “And I stayed with her so I could attend school.”
Talking with Gervase brought up many memories for him. We left him smiling.
The children all shook his hand as we were leaving and several even thanked him for his service.
He felt almost as honored as we did.
If you have a chance to interview someone who served in a past war, do it now. There are not many World War II veterans remaining. This generation is passing quickly and interviewing is a wonderful way to preserve and capture these memories… As well as learn something.
How to Interview a Veteran:
- Allow time for interview.
- Ask good questions: There are many websites to help get started: Veterans History Project, World War II Forum, Veteran Interview questions PDF
- Be sensitive with your questions. The horrors of war may be difficult.
- Allow your children to get involved. (My 7 year old was very interested in what kind of food he ate in the Navy and other countries.)
- Encourage them to go on tangents when talking. You can learn the most interesting things!
- Interview anyone from the past, from any war.
- Be creative.
- Record it, tape it or write down responses. Especially if this is a family member. It may be the only thing that will ever be passed down.
- Show gratitude. Be sure to thank them for their time and service.
Do you have any interviewing tips? Please share!
Gervais’ love for Nadine and their 65 year marriage remind me of the story of Fred and his love for his Sweet Lorraine…