Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Before They're Gone

From a June 6, 2006 Washington Post article entitled "Surviving Voices Bearing Witness: WWII History Alive at Rocky Run School":
"Students at Rocky Run Middle School set out to answer some questions about World War II yesterday. What was life like in a Jewish ghetto? How were prisoners of war treated? What kind of music did U.S. soldiers listen to back then?

"But students at the Fairfax County school didn't turn to history books for their assignment. They talked to more than 40 people who lived the war experience -- veterans, concentration camp survivors, Japanese Americans held in U.S. internment camps and others....

"The school's World War II Oral History Day project began a few years ago when one student's grandfather, a veteran, visited Jamie Sawatzky's history class. The next year, with help from the National Archives, family members and friends, Sawatzky found about 15 people to share their stories with his students. The program has grown each year....

"At a table in the school library, Thomas Miller, who served as a U.S. Marine on Iwo Jima in the Pacific, leaned in to tell Emma, Julia and a few of their classmates about the morning when he was startled out of bed by a noise he thought was the sound of firecrackers. It was Dec. 7, 1941, and he was serving at an ammunition depot near Pearl Harbor....

"Across the room, other students sat transfixed as Charlene Schiff, who grew up in Poland, talked about living in a wartime ghetto. She told them how she and her mother tried to cross a river to escape but had to hide for days to avoid flying bullets. She dozed off and, when she woke, her mother was gone.

"'How old are you?' Schiff asked the youngsters gathered around her. 'Thirteen,' they chimed.

"'You're much older than I was,' Shiff told them. 'I was 11 years old. I ended up all alone, with no family and no money. I lived like an animal: I ate worms, insects, whatever I could put in my mouth.'...

"Robert W. Patrick, director of the Veterans History Project, said the students also are helping to preserve memories and experiences that otherwise might soon be lost. About a dozen interviews conducted by Rocky Run students in past years are among the thousands collected as part of the project....

"Michael Ingrisano, who was a radio operator on troop carrier airplanes, told the students about bullets tearing through his plane and just missing him. He talked about missing home cooking and recalled writing 343 letters to the woman who later became his wife. He promised to visit Rocky Run next year.

"'I'll keep on coming until they carry me out to Arlington Cemetery,' Ingrisano said. 'All I can do is give you what I feel, so you can pass it down the line.'"
Such enrichment activities bring history alive for students. Kudos to Rocky Run Middle School and to the the Veterans History Project!


At 6/14/2006 7:12 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...


Please notice that comment moderation has been added in order to control spam attacks.

At 6/14/2006 7:13 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Wow, AoW- I remember the stories told by both of my parents about WWII. I tried to get Dad to write them down before he died, but he got sick and never really started. I have memorabilia from both of them, maybe I should write down what I remember being told, "Tales My Parents Told Me". But what a wonderful idea, good for Fairfax Cty.!
Good morning and G*D bless!


At 6/14/2006 7:14 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

BTW, Always, jobro spammed your thread at the top! Bum, no class, spoiler, spoiled whiney brat... needs a good spanking, he does!


At 6/14/2006 7:16 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

He hit the one below too!


At 6/14/2006 7:27 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Yes, I see the spam fest.

At 6/14/2006 7:48 AM, Blogger kev said...

The absence of brown eye from anywhere is a blessing. I'm all for these people and what they're doing. It counters the false propaganda that the mislabeled antiwar crowd spews, and educates the young that, although evil, war is sometimes necessary. I refer to the anti-war crowd as mislabeled because they never uttered a sound when clinton did what he did.

At 6/14/2006 7:58 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm getting the hang of comment notification. Brownie can play somewhere else.

I love "living-history lessons." Back when I was growing up (I'm not so young), we often had WWI vets come to the school to speak. Lots of lessons--and not just about the war itself. We learned something about respect for our elders.

At 6/14/2006 8:25 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Amen to that! I have met some of the most wonderful people, most of the elderly I've met are less dogmatic about new and different things than the younger! We aren't always doing a good job of passing on the knowledge that the older generation is a treasure to be sought after and cherished!


At 6/14/2006 9:15 AM, Blogger nanc said...

yup - he's lost what's left of his mind.

i love our veterans - old and young alike. i never tire of someone telling me of their war experiences - sometimes they just need a sympathetic ear.

At 6/14/2006 9:30 AM, Anonymous religion of pieces said...

J.B. has given a perfect illustration of what's meant by 'moonbat guano'. He seems to have finally completely flipped.

However, before he went totally ga-ga he left some semi-coherant posts at various blogs where he mentioned racism against Islam. This had me puzzled, until I read:

Apparently, for moonbats, all human interactions are defined in terms of 'race', even when race means 'ideology' or 'culture'.

I've also found a 20-point plan of how the Muzzies intend to use such moonbats to take over America:

At 6/14/2006 10:07 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Off to check out those links, especially the second one.

At 6/14/2006 10:09 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

That second link is material written by Dr. Anis Shorrosh; I think there is a link to that same material on my right sidebar.

I love the photo chosen in that link you left.

At 6/14/2006 10:10 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

My mistake! I don't have a direct link to the plan. I'll have to put that into my template.

At 6/14/2006 11:13 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

How lovely AOW!..schools should b mandated to do this!

At 6/14/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Should be available at every school in the nation. These "living history" sessions are a great way to preserve important history and give students a grounding in writing, interviewing and film techniqu.

There are organizations which do this job but having it done by students is just a solid idea.

At 6/14/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I didn't see any mention in the WaPO article about videotaping these sessions?

You're right that the opportunities for student-learning are multiple: writing, interviewing and film techniqu

In just a few years, these veterans will no longer be available for such interaction.

At 6/14/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

The WaPo article is the only mention I've seen in the msm. But I'm aware that some other groups work in this area--VFW, for one.

At 6/14/2006 11:40 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

I have had my kids do a film on my uncle, the Gulag escapee, one's father who was in the Italian capaign, one on Korean war experiences (far more neglected than WW II by quantums) and a great aunt's experiences in the union movement in the Merrimac valley.

Invaluable stuff. Should be part of any school curriculum where possible.

At 6/14/2006 11:50 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

You and I have discussed your uncle before, I think. I occasionally see you reference our exchange over at Beak's.

Funny that you should mention Korea. I was wondering when I first read the WaPo article if any Korean vets are being interviewed.

I know that schools must cover basic curricula (core material), but I've often seen worthless projects assigned. We need more projects like the ones you mentioned.

I know that some families make such videotapes, but I rarely here much about that kind of interviewing and filming in the schools.

At 6/14/2006 12:38 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Well AOW, my uncle Josip has had a profound influence on me. He went through stuff in WW II that make our worst trouble look like a simple day at the seashore. Yet he didn't approach the world in anger despite what happened to him. To be blunt, I consider his way to be more in line with the teachings of Christ in the gospels.

The experiences of Korean War vets are far more likely to be ignored than WW II. They have really fallen into a crack and anything done to get those memories down is quite worthwhile.

Starting a simple film archive of your student projects and those of home schoolers you know wouldn't be an expensive proposition. I would petition Virginia for an education grant.

At 6/14/2006 12:55 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

At the risk of your ridiculing me for not understanding all the details about your uncle, I think I recall a bit about your story of his escape. His not having anger-baggage is remarkable.

Some of my homeschool parents are media experts. I'll pass along your idea. I think that something akin to what we're talking about is being done by the larger co-ops of homeschoolers.

At 6/14/2006 1:05 PM, Blogger cube said...

Thank goodness they're not focusing on the Moslems like other schools I've read about.

At 6/14/2006 1:15 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

My uncle tunneled off the Gulag and also escaped from a prisoner of war camp. He lost a couple internal organs along the way but has lived a life of generosity that has often made me feel unworthy.

His wife had a stroke on the job. She was a waitress at age 70 and he built a wheelchair for her and cared for her. He is probably dying now from the parkinson's. it's getting worse and he has a limited income so the medication is really a stretch. I pay for most of it and consider it small payment for what he has taught me.

I'm really a pretty mellow person...gjust get me talking about flm. That's the key.

At 6/14/2006 1:25 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

You're a mellow person? Well!

Anyway...Parkinson's can be hideous. I understand that there are different forms of the disease. I'm not sure, but I think that one of the forms results in exhibiting dementia. At least, that's what my best friend's father seemed to have.

Whatever the type of Parkinson's, the meds are expensive. And some patients have terrible reactions, too. This was the case with my second mother's husband; he did better without the meds. But he was very debilitated the last 5 years of his life--trapped in a body which wouldn't respond; he had Parkinson's for some 17 years.

At 6/14/2006 1:40 PM, Blogger nanc said...

plucky - you mention the gospels and Yeshua alot sometimes. do you know why Yeshua angrily took the whip to the moneychanger tables in the temple?

because rebar had not yet been invented!

He also DID NOT turn His other cheek to judas. shows you where He stood with traitorous behavior.

At 6/14/2006 1:44 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

Ducky I would be really interested in hearing your uncle's story. It really sound fascinating. Has he ever written his experience down?

My grandfather served in WWII. He has passed along some great sea stories, in many different battles...Leyte Gulf, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered. He's 89 now and in poor health. My mother and sister are back visiting him and I asked my sister to have him tell her a sea story or two. He loves to share them.

At 6/14/2006 1:46 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Oh I would happily take the whip to the moneychangers, I'm a democratic socialist after all.

I also thought the recent book of Judas was very revealing.

At 6/14/2006 2:13 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Those relatives of mine who served in WWII would never discuss their experiences. Neither would my WWI great-uncle.

At 6/14/2006 2:25 PM, Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I would have loved programs like these! Good for them!

At 6/14/2006 2:30 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

No word as to how many other schools in Fairfax County might have similar programs.

At 6/14/2006 2:45 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Typo! "Wordsmith"

At 6/14/2006 3:31 PM, Blogger kev said...

Any recollections from people who have lived it are worthy of preservation. We should also learn from our mistakes. Ducky, since you speak of film...I saw in your profile that one of your favorite movies was "Dirty Harry." Although it's also one of mine, and probably the best of the "Dirty Harry" series, I admit I'm surprised you also liked it. Is that simply because of its entertainment value, as it is for me, or, noting that you have some obvious expertise in that field, does it have additional qualities in your opinion? I also liked "The Hustler," and thought Newman's Eddie Felson revival in "The Color of Money" was good, but thought the movie was weak in story and supporting characters, despite the presence of Cruise.

At 6/14/2006 4:18 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

Wow! I wish such a program had exsisted when I was in school! Such stories are a valuable treasure.

My sympathies to your Uncle, Ducky. Parkinson's is indeed a horrible disease.

At 6/14/2006 4:22 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Ducky- I have a collection about the Korean War on video, it is excellent and we have watched it many times. My Dad missed that war because he was busy working in research on jet engines and rockets in the AF. He was a Deputy Commander of engineering and helped put the missles in the ground in the Mid-West during the Cuban Missle Crisis. We traveled around alot! Ben missed Vietnam because he was sole surviving son, he just got to go to Greenland and Honshu.


At 6/14/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Yes, I'm kind of fond of Harry Callahan. I like the transition between Eastwood in "Dirty Harry" and Steve McQeen in "Bullitt.

Arguably Bullitt is the better film but there was a movement from the stoic professional cop portrayed by McQueen to the cynical vigilante represented by Eastwood that I really think is representative of what was going on in the country.

Yeah, the Husler. Newman was something in that stage of his career. try "Hud"...I think it's even better. Another film that deals with a transition into a different way of life. In both cases, I think, the new way lacks values.

At 6/14/2006 5:55 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

We have similar programs here in OZ.
All schools should have similar prorgrams.

At 6/14/2006 6:07 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Good ol' Dirty Harry.

And Bullitt had a Mustang!

At 6/14/2006 8:17 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...


My grandfather's stories are about other people usually and entail a bit of humor. He never talks about the actual battles.

One story he tells is chasing down a bunch of drunk Brits who stole the Captain's gig and the fist fight that ensued. You'd think this would have opened up another front in the war. The one story I can think of him telling is that he ended up in aft steering (for you non-navular types this is a crawl space in the rear and bottom of the ship. Usually there are a couple of guys on watch down there to manually steer the ship if it can't be done mechanically due to mechanical/electrical problems or they've been shot out). He told me he was stuck down there during a battle and if the ship had sunk he wouldn't have been able to get out.

At 6/14/2006 9:10 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

You have solved the problem in the same manner. No John Brown life is gooooood.

At 6/14/2006 9:28 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm not crazy about this system, but it IS more peaceful.

At 6/14/2006 10:35 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

That is okay but I left a nice little present for the usual suspects. Brown's behavior borders on harassment. His right of free speech is restricted to his own blog. Posting is a priviledge predicated on good behavior.

However he still has no readers and nothing to risk.

At 6/15/2006 12:12 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Sorry to hear about the spammer.

I love this history program - I adore it. I wish ALL schools did it. I wish they had done it when I was in school.

The father of one of my husband's childhood friends is a WWII vet. He survived a battle where most of the guys he was with died. Only a few of them survived. He is the kindest, most loving and open man I have ever met in my life. I have often wondered at it - he's such a good man. He lived through some atrocious things. Reading through the examples of people's experiences that you have in your entry I am amazed at what people will survive.

At 6/15/2006 4:40 AM, Blogger MissingLink said...

One story he tells is chasing down a bunch of drunk Brits who stole the Captain's gig and the fist fight that ensued.

This is similar to my father's and Uncle's stories.
You could only get out 'real' war stories from them when they were a tad drunk.
Then, when the facts were slowly unveiled I could understand why they didn't talk all that much about it.

At 6/15/2006 6:36 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

The funny thing about Ben's experiences, was the fact he was a native Fla. cracker who got sent to the coldest places in the Army! He ended up in Berlin in the '60's, had some weird tales to tell.
As for Dad, you're right EB, the nasty stuff rarely came up, it took something else to trigger a memory that would come out. Some were appauling(sic) and sad, usually though it was something funny or good or instructive!
Good morning all and G*D bless!


At 6/15/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger G_in_AL said...

I'm surprised their are not protests over this from folks that dont really want that whole "history" thing told the way it was....

Makes me wish my kids would have the opportunity to see it.

At 6/15/2006 12:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

The new WWII Memorial here has received great pr. I suspect that the new memorial has something to do with this project.

Programs such as the one at Rocky Run need to be implemented all over this country. So many advantages and learning opportunities!

At 6/15/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

I'm a wee bit late in getting here, but I finally made it. I've been reading through this comment thread and everyone has already said just about everything there is to say, so all I will add is to say Kudos are to be given to this school for doing such a great job. If it was the history teacher's idea, she/he should be given an award.

At 6/15/2006 1:33 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

AOW, I imagine you know that McQueen did his own driving in the car chase.

Those pipes were quite a soundtrack when he was moving through the gears.

At 6/15/2006 1:45 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Yes, I am aware that McQueen was a stunt driver.

You're heard about the Bullitt edition of the Mustang? I see those comems at various car shows.

Also, in the Westwood of LA, is a car museum with several of McQueen's vehicles, including motorcyles. My husband and I visited that museum last November. We spent hours in that museum but didn't begin to see everything there. Maybe on our next trip to LA we can revisit that museum.

I'm not into loud pipes, but I've noticed that most men love the roar. The soundtrack of Bullitt makes the viewer's heart race right along with the shifting of the gears--and I admit that I love the movie.

At 6/16/2006 7:54 AM, Blogger kev said...

It's been said that the chase scene in Bullit is the best to date and I agree. It's like every one since is just an imitation. The hit-guy (the driver)I thought was a great character and that actor did it justice. McQueen was also supposed to have done the motorcycle stunt riding at the end of "The Great Escape." Would have been nice to see how he developed as an actor.

At 6/18/2006 10:57 AM, Blogger Mussolini said...

On the original topic of WW2 and schoolkids...

Nothing makes my privates itch more than seeing yet another rendition of the ubiquitous "Japanese internment victims."

As if they played a massive part of WW2. As if anything the democrat Roosevelt did to them altered any aspect of the outcome.

Sheee-it, gotta have all our minorities represented! Throw in the internment BS!

Notice how the Navajos go unmentioned? Despite their valuable contribution?

My point: idiot media is always more concerned with perceived victimization than heroics and valor. Remember the "invasion" of .... was it Kuwait? The media is all lined up on the shore as the marines land. The marines have some muslim down on the ground at gunpoint and the insipid reporter is saying: "yes, it definitely looks like this man's civil rights are being violated..."

(sigh) Morons.


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