As a memoir and autobiography ghostwriter for more than 20 years, I have been privileged to help bring to life several dramatic stories of World War II. Many years ago, I was contacted by a woman who had recently lost her husband of more than 50 years. It turned out they had met early in World War II at an American Army base in Newfoundland, where he was an American soldier and she was a Newfoundland civilian employee. Even though they lived only a mile apart on the same base, he wrote her a love letter every day and made sure the courier delivered it to her desk before she arrived for work each day at 8:30 a.m. Of course she had saved those letters, and they became the backbone of her story.
More recently, a woman reached out to me to tell the story of her father, who had died some time earlier. She had audio tapes of an interview with him before he passed away, and she had done extensive research related to his experience of being a fighter pilot shot down over France six days after D-Day. She had even helped him reunite with the French farmers who had hidden him from the Germans, almost 50 years after it happened.
In my most recent project of a World War II autobiography, a retired physician and U.S. Army colonel told the riveting story of growing up in Berlin in Hitler’s Germany, being drafted in the final months of the war and becoming a POW of the Americans and the French for two years after the war ended. All along, he clung to his dream of someday moving to America and becoming a physician, which is exactly what he did.
There are so many compelling stories from World War II. Even though the number of surviving veterans able to tell their stories keeps diminishing, that doesn’t mean those stories can’t be told! If a member of your family was a part of the Greatest Generation, you may be motivated to put together that person’s story today. It’s never too late!
And if you or a loved one served our country at any other time during these last decades, you may have a story worth telling. What you choose to share can touch, inspire or somehow make a difference on the lives of those you don’t even know.
- Kevin Quirk, memoir and autobiography ghostwriter