Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

4,889 Individuals

September 20, 2007

It’s hard for me to believe that the debut of Ken Burns new film, THE WAR, is actually here.  THE WAR debuts nationwide on Sunday, September 23.  At Channel 9, we’ve been planning and doing this work around WWII for many, many months.   We’ve all been profoundly moved by the conversations we’re having with the community–it’s as if the Channel 9 family has grown much larger as a result of sharing these stories of WWII.  

One of our proudest efforts has been to document the names of all the service men and women from our region who died in service to their country during WWII.  This list includes the names from all branches of the military including the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.  This list has never been before compiled from our region.  It is hugely powerful to see these 4,889 names and realize all of these brave individuals were just that–individuals with families and hopes and dreams.  Channel 9 has created a living memorial to these individuals with In Honor of St. Louis Fallen:  1941-1945, a one hour production that will air on Saturday, September 22 at 8:30 pm.  This memorial also includes local images and audio interviews that we’ve collected through Your Stories:  St. Louis Remembers World War II.  I think it’s going to be very moving and I hope that you’re as moved as all of us are by these stories.

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Help Someone Record a Memory

September 4, 2007

The other day I got a phone call from a nice woman who had read about our Your Stories project. She wanted to see if we knew about a piece of local World War II history–the 1943 glider crash at Lambert Field. We do. In fact, Channel 9 had done a story about it some years ago. The crash was one of the biggest disasters in St. Louis aviation history–10 people including the mayor of St. Louis and other city officials died when a troop transport glider fell apart during a demonstration flight. I asked the woman why she was checking about this particular bit of history.

Well, it turns out that she witnessed the crash! I was stunned. She had been the first female radio operator (for TWA, I think, although in my surprise I didn’t catch all the details) and worked at Lambert Field. She must have been working in the tower, because she could look down on the crowd watching the demonstration. Her attention was grabbed by the sound of a spontaneous, horrified exclamation from the onlookers. She looked out and saw various pieces of the glider detach and fall to the earth.

She dashed out of her office just in time to catch a woman fainting in the hallway. It turned out to be the wife of the mayor; the poor woman had just watched her husband die.

I told the lady on the phone to please write down her story, or let us videotape her recollection. She demurred. I think the prospect of going public was alarming. “I’m 87!” she protested. And with that she conveyed the idea that she was too old, too tired and too overwhelmed with daily tasks to face dealing  with anything more. She made her phone call; that was enough.

My own mother is 85, so I understand where this woman is coming from. But her story illustrates how important it is to record these memories of history before they are lost forever. If you know of someone with a story to tell, please help them tell it! You don’t have to be Ken Burns or Gore Vidal. We welcome all submissions in any form–write it, type it, video tape it, audio tape it. If you’re reading this now, you can do it!