Audience Appreciation for ‘The Way We Get By’

by |

The three subjects from 'The Way We Get By' waiting at the airport. L-R: Jerry Mundy, Joan Gaudet, Bill Knight. Credit: Sean CarnellLast night’s special Veterans Day broadcast of POV’s The Way We Get By prompted a tremendous response from PBS viewers — in fact, the most viewer emails, comments, tweets, etc. we’ve received in a very long time. Many U.S. service men and women and their families wrote to say that the film reminded them of the time they themselves met the Maine Troop Greeters, and how thankful they were that Joan Gaudet, Jerry Mundy, Bill Knight and the other greeters perform this important community service.

Here are a few of our favorite comments from POV viewers.

I would like to thank you for airing your program on the Bangor, Maine “Troop Greeters.” It once again stirred the emotions I felt when I returned to US soil after many months of deployment to a war zone. To see those folks there at all hours of the morning there to give us hug, pats on the backs and fellowship after many intense and sometimes traumatic experiences that come from combat let me know: “I’m safe now among people who care about me!” It was one of the major positive memories that I called upon to deal with difficult days that haunt me to this day. I will never forget the wonderful woman whom made me sit down with a cell phone and call my mother, wife and children to let them know I was home safely! After the phone conversation with my mother (who spent many sleepless nights, and cried in relief that I was again home) the greeter allowed me to cry on her shoulder and gently wiped the tears from my eye only as a mother could do. That is a memory I will carry through out my life.

My husband and I have been deeply moved by the film. At 82 and 76 years of age, we are saying, If Bill and Joan and Jerry can do something like this, so can we. They are an inspiration to us.

It is Veterans day and I came home from Vietnam 40 years ago. I wish we had been greeted like those in Bangor. The show brought back many memories and reinforced my resolve to make certain our military know I care for them and appreciate what they do.

On the way out of Bangor where I was visiting for surgery, I heard (maybe on the radio?) that there was a troop flight coming in. I just went in and sat and watched. What a wonderful feeling it was to see those people greeting the troops. I am now a widow of a Vietnam veteran, he died in January. It is wonderful to see how people treat out troops now no matter what they think of the war; it was not that way when our Vietnam soldiers returned.

Great documentary! Extraordinary giving of all of the volunteers, especially Bill, Joan, and Jerry. Thank you to all of the active military members and to the Veterans. I’d like to be a part of a greeters group here in Baltimore if you have any leads. Wish I could give Jerry a puppy, Joan all of her family under one roof, and Bill a companion. Even though I don’t know any of you, this documentary has made me care for all of you and want to be like you. Thanks for the inspiration.

I have seen things that I will have to live with for the rest of my life and the feeling of landing home safely on US soil is completely and utterly unparalleled. The only thing that made the experience better was the support of these men and women who came out and shook my hand at 3 in the morning! Thank you for recognizing these vets and civilians who not once, but twice gave me a free phone call to my wife, a proper send-off and a proper homecoming! Awesome.

After I heard the NPR interview with Aaron and Joan Gaudet on NPR (I think it was yesterday?), I was “web surfing” and discovered an organization in my upcoming new home town that serves homeless vets. Tonight I watched the film and experienced it as a good and proper meditation for Veterans’ Day, and it “sealed the deal” on my recently discovered volunteer opportunity. Thank you so much for your great work.

If you are inspired by Joan, Jerry and Bill to volunteer and support the troops in your local community, please enter your zip code on Create the Good’s Volunteering map. For those of you wishing to send comments to the Maine Troop Greeters and the filmmaker, please visit The Way We Get By area of the POV website. Scroll down to see other viewer comments and enter your own!

And don’t forget that you can direct your friends and family who might have missed the television broadcast to catch the film online for the next month on the PBS Video Player. It’s available to watch in its entirety through December 12.

theresa
theresa
  • Sandra MacLeod

    FOREIGNID: 21749
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I knew of these special people, my granddaughter by marriage, her Nana and Puppa are greeters. I watched and cried at Jerry and the love for his dog and the saddness he felt at putting him down. I cried for Joan at having to see her granddaughter leave. I cried at the saddness and lonelyness Bill felt at the loss of his wife. But I also saw their courage and strength as they faced their problems and did not sit around feeling sorry for themselves and give love and comfort to those precious men and women who give so much of themselves for our freedom. I cried and cry still that so many of them are still leaving and fighting for us and this country. God Bless them all.

  • Sandy Wilson

    FOREIGNID: 21756
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was truly moved by this documentary of these selfless people who give so much of themselves to our military men and women. They are such a blessing. My nephew has passed through there on his way to Iraq and again when he returned. My son’s best friend also. It means so much to know that they have these individuals are there for them. God Bless each and everyone.

  • Joan Lutz

    FOREIGNID: 21759
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I loved this doc! I had heard of the greeters and had been upset about somehow missing it at the local theaters. I was thrilled to find it on pbs and just loved it. They greeted over one million! It makes me weep to think of those soldiers getting off the plane only to find someone there welcoming them back, shaking their hand, thanking them, handing them a phone and befriending them intimately for a few minutes. Their contribution changed the lives of all those they greeted! KUDOS!
    (Need an update: What happened to the soldier who gave the volunteer the coin to hold for him?)

  • Patricia Tirico

    FOREIGNID: 21760
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank You so very much for this truly fabulous documentary! I absolutely LOVED IT! What brave Americans! Way to Go!!These beautiful seniors will always have a special spot in my memory bank. God bless all of you and especially our troops for keeping myself and our families safe and out of harms way. We will never forget the sacrifices you and your family’s have made for us. God Bless you all and especially God Bless America–the land of the FREE and the home of the Brave! I wish I lived close to this airport, I would definitely be there cheering for our troops and standing proudly next to these beautiful people. A great big kiss and bear hug USA style to you all!!….

  • Lee Walsh

    FOREIGNID: 21767
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a wonderful program. I wish that I lived in Bangor, Maine and could participate in this uplifting experience. May Jerry, Joan and Bill and others like them be there in the next couple of months as my nephew, Brandon, a Navy Seal, leaves for duty. Our brave young men and women deserve this an so much more from all of us for all they do.
    Joan’s grandaughter, Amy was trully inspirational. May she and her brother be safe while on duty. And may President Obama make the right decision as he determines whether or not to send more of our troops into Afganhistan.
    Although I cannot be in Bangor my thoughts and prayers are with the greeters and our troops as they guard our safety. Thank you to PBS for bringing this story to us.
    Lee Walsh 11/12/09

  • Lisa Clark

    FOREIGNID: 21768
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My husband and I watched this special broadcast and was again very moved since we were so impressed with the greeters the first time we met them. I cried. We have been there seveal times to see our son return and deploy. I agree with Joan as I could never say the good-by part. The first time we were there we surprised our son. While we were waiting all we could do was cry and say what a beautiful thing this is to be done for the troops and their families. We were sad for Bill, Joan and Jerry regarding their stories but would like them to know we think they are and all the other greeters are a very special people and we are very greatful and to tell them their hearts are so in the right place. The last time we were there to welcome our son and others home I got in line and shook the hands of the soldiers with a sign that I had made and I will tell you it left a lasting impression on me and I will never forget it. It really warmed my heart to see all the smiles and the gratitude. If we lived in Bangor we would be gretting as well. Again, thanks so very much and GOD BLESS to all the troops

  • MONA S. CALDWELL

    FOREIGNID: 21772
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    THIS WONDERFUL DOCUMENTARY WAS AIRED IN MY AREA AT 12:00 A.M. ON NOVEMBER 12TH. AFTER VIEWING IT I WISHED IT COULD HAVE BEEN AIRED EARLIER ON VETERAN’S DAY. MORE PEOPLE NEED TO SEE THIS MOVING AND INSPIRATIONAL FILM. IT MAKES ONE PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN AND TO WITNESS THE COMPASSION SHOWN BY THESE THREE SENIORS AND THE IMPACT THEIR SACRIFICES MADE ON THE MEN AND WOMEN RETURNING FROM THE COMBAT ZONES. MY COMMUNITY HAD A VETERANS’ DAY SERVICE AT ONE OF OUR LOCAL
    CEMETERIES AND THE VIEWING OF THIS FILM WAS A PERFECT WAY TO
    END MY VETERAN’S DAY. OUR COMMUNITY PARTICIPATED IN A PROGRAM CALLED HONOR AIR IN WHICH WWII VETERANS ARE FLOWN TO WASHINGTON, DC TO VISIT THE WWII MEMORIAL ON A ONE-DAY
    EXCURSION AT NO CHARGE TO THE VET AND AN ESCORT OF HIS OR HER CHOICE. MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE PARTICIPATED IN A WELCOMING CEREMONY FOR THESE VETS AS THEY RETURN HOME AND WE HAVE WITNESSED HOW APPRECIATIVE THESE VETS ARE. ANYTHING WE CAN DO FOR OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN THE MILITARY IS SUCH A SMALL PRICE TO PAY FOR THEIR COURAGE AND BRAVERY IN SUPPORTING AND GUARANTEEING OUR FREEDOM.

  • http://aol.com carol Cherico

    FOREIGNID: 21774
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What an wonderful documentary. I kept wondering, “Who did this?” They made us love and care for these elderly volunteers who greeted the troups as they left and returned to the U.S. If I were a professor in a university, I would give you two filmakers an A++++. I am a nurse and my heart goes out to those seniors. Loneless is hard. To miss a dog or wife or husband is difficult. And to grow old and hurt and move slowly is difficult also. How do you carry on? The answer is, give to others. Thank you for this film.

  • Anne Metzger

    FOREIGNID: 21802
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This was not only inspirational and motivational for me, but also my children. We all stayed up way too late to watch the entire program! It was so moving to see the effort of these town citizens to meet the soldiers.Without regard to health or inconvenience to themselves, they had a greater purpose in mind, and did everything they could to be a blessings to these soldiers. Politics had nothing to do with their actions, these citizens put their country first; they remembered their own service experience during earlier conflicts and met the needs of these men and women both incoming and outgoing. We cried a lot!

  • Mary Everitt

    FOREIGNID: 21832
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I had never heard of the Greeters in Bangor until 3am Nov 6, 2007. That is when my son called to say his final goodbyes from American soil as he headed to his first tour in Iraq. He told us how he and the others were greeted and how we could see his picture if we went to the website. As we made the 12 hour drive back to our home the next day, we stopped to eat lunch and I got my laptop out and right there in the restaurant we were able to see not one but two pictures of him. After 15 months he returned but flew into Minneapolis. As I watched the movie the other evening I cried to see those soldiers and marines pass through. God Bless the Maine Greeters! My only regret is that I don’t live close enough to a major airport where the soldiers pass through because I would be there too.

  • James Polk

    FOREIGNID: 21855
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Your film is one of the most moving works of filmmaking I’ve seen in a
    very long time. One of the most amazing thing about it, was that it
    simultaneously touched on so many current issues in our society.
    Issues starting with veteran and soldier appreciation, to our individual
    viewpoints on war in general, and these wars in particular…but then
    touching on other serious issues, like healthcare for the elderly,
    the plight of farmers losing their farms, dispossession of senior citizens by society-at-large, and to more personal issues, like losing one’s marriage partner. And there were still more issues portrayed…like contrasting the values of small-town America to the all ubiquitous 24-hr cables news America. The story of a lifetime of memories related by the main individuals in your film was truly inspiring and at the same time, educational…making us all ask hard questions of ourselves, and about how we would handle such circumstances, like being 70 yrs old, and rising at 3am on a cold winter morning, and driving to the local airport.
    It is just a marvel to me that a single focus managed to capture such a wide array of emotions and issues to create a much larger canvas, or mirror of society.
    You’ve created a gem, that every American should see and experience, and I hope and encourage you to continue to use your
    filmmaking gifts to bring forth more such introspective jewels.

  • Kathy Cunningham

    FOREIGNID: 21921
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am one of the fortunate ones. The company I work for has tranported millions of troops and sponsored this movie. November 19, 2009, Jerry will be here with a special screening. I cannot wait to meet and hug him! This film will be in my thoughts everyday for the rest of my life.
    I plan on buying several copies for gifts.

  • Susan Clukey

    FOREIGNID: 21929
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My son is home on r and r from Afghanistan. He came through the Dallas airport and was greeted with fanfare! I was perplexed when he told me; I thought he just happened to come upon a group waiting for their own family members. I was mesmerized when I came across the POV documentary on the Maine Troop Greeters. I wish to send a heartfelt thank you to all who would do such a thing. This IS TRUELY a great country because of GREAT PEOPLE such as these!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU.