Honoring those who served; ‘His actions changed my life forever’
Dorothy “Dot” Lewis, left, was one of the 1,830 Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPS, during WWII. Photo courtesy of Albert Lewis
This Veterans Day, PBS NewsHour asked you to share your stories of veterans who taught, helped or inspired you in some way. You shared your experiences with us — big and small — about veterans from World War II through the Iraq War who made a difference in your life.
Here are some of those tributes:
“She taught others to see what she could: the beauty of flying, of service, of the idealism of a young woman seeking to serve her nation as a pilot.”
Albert Lewis Jr. of Arlington, Va., on his mother, Dorothy Lewis — one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Burton Sullivan demonstrates how to correctly wear a uniform during WWII. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Ebneer
“The veteran that completely changed the trajectory of generations of my family was my grandfather. … I can only hope that I can make a difference in others lives as much as my grandfather has influenced mine. Although he died when I was very young, I often wonder if he would be proud of his family and how far they have come.”
Kathleen Ebneer of Centreville, Va., on her grandfather, Burton C. Sullivan — Navy petty officer second class during WWII.
“My father was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. … He showed me the courage and tenacity to face extraordinary circumstances. … My mother was among the first group of women to join the (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES). … She taught me to take risks and make choices that matter. Both helped me understand the importance of tenacity, commitment, taking a reasoned stand and thinking for oneself.”
James Wilson of Northamton, Mass., on his his father, James Wilson Jr. — a fire technician in the Navy — and his mother, Ilva Aquino — a WAVE. Both served during WWII.
Pictured is Ilva Aquino and James Wilson on their wedding in 1945. Photo courtesy of James Wilson
Ross Brown of Bellevue College designed this bronze boots statue, part of a veterans monument that recently opened on the Bellevue, Wash., campus. Photo courtesy of Ross Brown
“They have given much to protect a culture that gives me the freedom to express myself without restriction. It was the least I could do to assist with their transition back into scholar/civilian status.”
Ross Brown, who was inspired by his art student and Army veteran Tim Thorpe.
“After he died, I found out he had helped liberate Auschwitz. He never spoke of it; his children didn’t even know. But his actions changed my life forever, for the better.”
Deborah Mellicker on her neighbor, Army veteran Alvie Gamble.
“He grew up in Rhode Island and honorably wore the cloth of our Nation as a soldier in World War II, wading ashore at Normandy and fighting his way to Berlin.”
Cathal O’ Connor on his stepfather, WWII Army veteran Francis “Mac” Maguire.
Iraq War veteran David Richard Gosling with his grandfather and WWII veteran Christian Harald Pedersen. Photo courtesy of Hannah Anderson
“His commitment to serve our country and the rigor it demanded of him on physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual levels have taken their toll. Yet, in spite of it, or perhaps because of it, I have witnessed the courageous journey of a son who traveled through these past five years of wilderness to reclaim his soul and find his rightful place in the world.”
Hannah Anderson of Concord, N.H., on her son, Army Capt. and Army Ranger David Richard Gosling.
“This veteran has taught me many things in life. The most important is how to survive any difficult turn in the road and for this and his enduring love I will never forget his legacy.”
Lizanne Elliott of Jonesborough, Tenn., on her father, Donald Edward Munson — an Army Air Corp WWII Second Lieutenant.
Donald Edward Munson, pictured, was a B-24 pilot during WWII. His daughter Lizanne Elliot tells us that he flew 45 combat missions in the South Pacific, completing 356 combat hours and a total flight time of 1003 hours in 25 different planes. Photo courtesy of Lizanne Elliott
“He was able to serve in Vietnam and adjust to life when he returned, choosing to find the best way to live a meaningful life.”
Cynthia Renner of Dickinson, North Dakota on her brother — a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Navy veteran and firefighter Donald M. Hodgkinson receives a salute from a fellow fireman. Photo courtesy of Jane Hodgkinson-Koropsak
“He taught me the spirit of good competition, how important it is to be kind, to give, to be respectful of others and to serve your community. … He was a mediator with a sense of patriotism that was as big as his heart.”
Jane Hodgkinson-Koropsak of Center Moriches, New York on her father, Donald M. Hodgkinson — a U.S. Navy veteran.
Has a veteran made a difference in your life? Share your story with us in the comments below.