Watch “The Way We Get By” on PBS Tonight

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Today is Veterans Day, the one day out of the year that is specifically designated as a time to honor those who serve our country. But Bill Knight, Jerry Mundy, Joan Gaudet and the rest of the Maine Troop Greeters honor veterans and military members throughout the year by greeting them at a tiny airport in Bangor, Maine. In fact, they’ve greeted over 900,000 soldiers to date! These senior citizens have take it upon themselves to greet every troop plane arriving or departing Bangor, which is the last and first piece of U.S. soil many GIs will see before and after their deployments.

The Way We Get By, which tells the stories of Bill, Jerry and Joan, airs tonight on PBS at 9 PM (Check your local listings).

Watch a trailer of The Way We Get By:

The Washington Post says that the film “strikes a deep, rich vein of emotion that flows through America’s elderly, and it should be required viewing for those who think they know exactly what America is about.” Film Threat gives the film four stars and says that “‘The Way We Get By‘ manages to be touching, honest, and thought-provoking at the same time.” In fact, the raves for the film have piled up — you can read through many of them on the filmmakers’ website.

Speaking of the filmmakers, they actually have quite a story of their own! Director Aron Gaudet and producer Gita Pullapilly, who met in 2004, began dating before they started working on The Way We Get By, collaborated on the film together, and got engaged in December of 2007. The two just got hitched a few weeks ago. You can read about their courtship and wedding in a recent New York Times Vows column.

So don’t forget to pile onto the couch — or set your DVRs — for tonight’s broadcast of The Way We Get By. Afterwards, check out POV’s website for the film, where you can rate and comment on the film, watch an interview with Aron and Gita, read stories of those who have met the Maine Troop Greeter and a lot more! Starting tomorrow, November 12th, the film will be streaming in its entirety online for one month.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
  • Debbie Bickford

    FOREIGNID: 21428
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The movie was just awsome!!!! I think that this is the 5th time that I have seen it. Thank you so much for showing it to the world. I am honored to be a part of all of this, a troop greeter. Bill , Jerry and Joan did a wonderful job.
    They represented us wonderfully. Aron and Gita should be very proud of this film.

  • Cheryl Pell

    FOREIGNID: 21434
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Just finished watching “the way we get by” and it was awesome! These men and women realized that getting involved in something other then themselves made them feel better even though they were not in good physical shape and lonely.
    Someday these soldiers will tell their children and grandchildren about the people who met them at the airport. In this way the “way of volunteering” will be spread. Thank you for showing inspiring films such as this one.

  • Debbie Higgins

    FOREIGNID: 21451
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Just finished watching the way we get by and was so moved. I am so impressed that the greeters are so dedicated and really appreciate the dedication that they have to greet our military. Thank you!

  • Tom Gagnon

    FOREIGNID: 21481
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Just watched the Way We Get By and recommend that everyone, 8 to 80, make it a must see on their viewing list. There is much to be proud of in this film; our wonderful young men and women who serve our country, the dedication of our volunteer citizens, Bill, Joan and Jerry, and their team, and the wonderful way the film personalized each individual, family and community. Another classic POV.

  • Peter Frankenburg

    FOREIGNID: 21482
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The Way We Get By was an absolutly incredible film. It is amazing how the filmakers captured so many stories– veterans leaving/returning;Struggles facing seniors;family emotions;dedication of volunteers in spite of their own personal challenges. All in a down to earth, honest, non political perspective. By far the best film I have seen some time. EXCELLENT JOB. Thank you for showing it!!!

  • Linda Bishop

    FOREIGNID: 21496
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have heard about this movie but had not seen if before tonight. It was amazing. I don’t know if you have shown it before but I hope you show it again and again. I want to call everyone in my family and all my friends and tell them to watch this inspiring story about these troop greeters and the three personal stories. It made me proud to be an American, grateful that these greeters so unselfishly gave of their time, and humbled about the difference they make in the lives of our soldiers. I heartily applaud the talented film maker who captured the spirit, unselfishness, and dedication of Bill, Jean, and Jerry and their collective wisdom.

  • Lynn Ryan

    FOREIGNID: 21501
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for giving this thought provoking film a national audience. I’ve been blessed enough to join the loyal troop greeters at BIA. Bill Knight is a dear friend. His heart is huge and his determination to treat our military men and women right has now been shown to a national audience. Joan, Jerry and Bill each give of themselves even when their personal stories might keep others home. They do not greet troops so they can be thanked or recognized for their efforts but all American’s should thank them, and the others like them, for offering handshakes, hugs, a kind word and an open ear to those who serve in harms way. I hope all Americans will take a good hard look at this honest film. There are many lessons for all of us within….about serving a cause greater than self, about aging in rural America, about love….love of others. Evertte Steele is smiling in heavan tonight!

  • Michelle

    FOREIGNID: 21566
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My husband, Jeff and I were very taken with this documentary because it gives viewers a sense of the fabric of what it is to be a real American. Joan, Jerry and Bill provided us with a window into their personal triumphs and struggles. They define selflessness and exemplify the contributions that all of us can make to our troops. I respect and honor their dedication to what they believe and deeply appreciate their values. I am grateful to them for sharing their stories and Aron and Gita for making this film.

  • Jen, USAFR

    FOREIGNID: 21613
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    It seemes like just yesterday, but in reality it was over 6 years ago that I first met these amazing people. They touched my heart then and now. It is interesting that when you remember certain times in your life, you try to defer to the good rather than the bad. When I think of my deployments, I always think of my greeters in Maine. When they announced on the plane that you are now on American soil; and then you are welcomed by the most phenomenal group of strangers at 3 am. I cannot do the emotions justice with mere words. You made me feel like I was home. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for paying tribute to these amazing men and women of Bangor, Maine. They will remain in my heart forever.

  • BarbaraS

    FOREIGNID: 21643
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This is a wondeful movie. So moving and well done. Jerry, my husband and I loved your smile and your attitude. We hope you have another wonderful pet. You deserve it! Bill, you are a tremendous person. The movie shows your incredible strength and all the hard work you’ve done in your life. You mean so much to the world, BELIEVE IT! :) Joan, your voice and your gentle, loving way and the bravery you have shown by travelling in the middle of the night are something special. Thank you for what you have done and for being you. and thank you to the people who made this movie~!!!

  • BarbaraS

    FOREIGNID: 21644
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This is a wondeful movie. So moving and well done. Jerry, my husband and I loved your smile and your attitude. We hope you have another wonderful pet. You deserve it! Bill, you are a tremendous person. The movie shows your incredible strength and all the hard work you’ve done in your life. You mean so much to the world, BELIEVE IT! :) Joan, your voice and your gentle, loving way and the bravery you have shown by travelling in the middle of the night are something special. Thank you for what you have done and for being you. and thank you to the people who made this movie~!!!

  • http://www.kms.ca Dave

    FOREIGNID: 21646
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This is such a story of the human heart and how we all need to feel that someone cares – it is about the value that we all need to experience.

  • Jim Adams

    FOREIGNID: 21731
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My wife and I have had the emotional experience of meeting and greeting one winter night on the occasion of a grandson heading for Iraq. We stuck around to help greet a plane load returning to the U.S. Bill and all his helpers are incredible in their dedication and personal sacrafice to keep doing what they’re doing.
    I enjoyed everything in the program but wished that I had not seen the conditions in Bill’s home. Though part of the story perhaps, I think he deserves better than letting the world see his “dirty laundry” even in a documentary. One of my fellow vets that I had encouraged to watch the show also felt that however factual it somehow took away from the real story.
    Proud to be a Mainer.

  • http://www.veteranaid.org Debbie

    FOREIGNID: 21828
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    As the daughter of a WWII veteran who discovered at his passing a hidden VA Pension Benefit, I am trying to do my part to honor the sacrifce of service to those who defend our freedom. I am also trying to change an ending for another daughter or son who stands helpless in providing care for a loved one.
    Improved Pension is not disability compensation nor is it dependent upon service related injuries. This is not a new benefit and has been an entitlement for 58 years sitting idle and un-utilized
    It can represent over $23,000 annually tax-free dollars to offset the cost of care for those older veterans who need the assistance of others for their day-to-day living.
    My hope is that by sharing this information here, it will allow someone to have better choices. I have been that daughter who was out of hope, options and financial resources to provide for both my parents over a 9-year period. This pension would have meant over $160,000.
    For insights as to why I have taken this mission on, I offer http://www.veteranaid.org/docs/mystory.pdf
    Please share with those you know who may be able to benefit.
    Debbie Burak

  • Karen LeComte

    FOREIGNID: 21839
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I know neither old age nor military service to our Country, but this piece of art poignantly captured the relationship of both. It shows how both elders and young warriors face the inevitability of separation from their loved ones, and how bravery and self-sacrifice fuels their will to continue against insurmountable odds. These extraordinary “everyday people” are unsung heros who walk among us and make me proud to be an American.

  • Karen

    I wish everyone in this country could watch this movie. It’s the story of our soldiers who give so much – - and of the people who love and support them by meeting and greeting all the soldiers who leave or arrive from Bangor Maine. A real story about the American spirit so beautifully told.