So, my father has been spending a lot of the last five years remembering and retelling the story of his past, especially during World War II. The main result is a self-published memoir, Capers of a Medic, courtesy of some herculean typing and editing work by my mom. It’s been a real pleasure and an amazing gift to have access to this portion of his life. A couple weeks ago, he told his story in person to reporter who came by my parent’s house. The result appeared today in Cleveland’s Plain Dealer:
Many who fought and survived, in so many different ways, during World War II are gone now.
Some took their stories with them.
But not this one.
For every World War II GI who pulled a trigger, dropped a bomb or fired a shell, there were thousands of people making sure they could.
They were the support and supply troops who, as famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle noted, toiled “from day to day in a world full of insecurity, discomfort, homesickness and a dulled sense of danger.”
Among them were many of the 1 million black Americans who served during the war, including Frank James, 83, of Shaker Heights.
read more on Cleveland.com
Something you learn fast when you start to listen to black soldiers of this era, is the immensely two-sided nature of the war, the way they were forced to fight on two fronts at times, and to choke back their well-grounded outrage to racism at home at other times. There’s also a generational experience of being respected, through their ranks, through being seen as liberators, through encountering people not schooled in racism American-style, that a million black men, my father included, brought home. It stiffened his, and their, spine for the hard work ahead.
The book is available from me (for those who know me), or online at CapersofaMedic.com.