Archive for the ‘Your Stories’ Category

Veterans Day

November 9, 2007

Speaking honestly, Veterans Day doesn’t rank very high on the list of holidays for most Americans. Of the patriotic holidays, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, the 4th of July is the nation’s birthday party (plus it has fireworks!) and Thanksgiving has food, family and football. Even Labor Day–and three day weekend it brings–probably gets more national love.

Some of that probably has to do with the holiday being held in concert with Armistice Day or Remembrance Day around the world to mark the end of World War I (the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…”), and event that scared Europe and others parts of the world far more than the United States.

But if you’ve visited this space before you know that all of our thinking here at KETC has been changed in the last year because of our involvement in collecting the St. Louis story of World War II as part of the Your Stories project. One of the major efforts of this project was the collecting and presenting of the names of the nearly 5,000 men and women from the St. Louis area who lost their lives in service to their country during the war. We will once again broadcast those names in the program In Honor of St. Louis’ Fallen 1941-45 this Sunday, November 11, at 1:30 p.m. You can see a listing of the names online as well on our Your Stories site.

As for me, I’ll spend this Veterans Day thinking about what it means for anyone at anytime to provide service in defense of our country. And I’ll make a promise to myself to not forget about Veterans Day ever again.

Mike

300 and Counting…

October 8, 2007

That’s how many World War II memories we’ve recorded on the Your Stories site. And we aren’t done yet by a long shot. We are adding more stories just as fast as we can, whether they are submitted online, by email or good old U.S. mail. In fact, by the time I finish this post we may be at 301 or 302…

So in case you hadn’t heard: we aren’t done yet. We still want you to share your stories with us.

And once again, I have to say a big thanks to our interns who have kept this project going. They’ve made it possible for Your Stories to become success it has. So thanks once again. We can’t say it enough.

Mike 

A Sort of Homecoming

October 2, 2007

Well, tonight brings to a close the first run of Ken Burns’ The War (although if you missed any of it the entire series will replay on consecutive Wednesday starting tomorrow at 9:00 p.m.). Tonight he will focus in part on what it was like for the millions of men who went off to war to return home and try and live a “normal” life. So as the series returns home, it has put me in a reflective mood as to where the journey has taken me.

I will admit that I have found it difficult to watch at times. As silly as it sounds, I’ve found myself feeling emotionally drained just from watching. I think the series has definitely told the human stories of what Burns’ has called “the worst war” in a way that will change how many people feel about not just this war, but all wars.

For us here at KETC, the stories and memories you have shared with us has definitely changed how we feel about World War II. It is tempting to try and order history by dates, lines on maps, and numbers of killed, wounded, missing. But history is much more than that. And while that’s easy to say, your stories have made it something that for us will be impossible to forget. Thank you again for all your contributions.

Mike

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.

Shameless Self-Promotion

September 11, 2007

As I think more than a few people have said, if you’ve watch KETC at all during the last couple of months, you’re probably aware that we have been telling the World War II stories of St. Louis. Last night we tried to pull it all together with a broadcast of a compilation of Your Stories, as well as having some of the people we’ve met along the way live in our studio. If you missed it—or if you want to see it again—we will re-air the program tomorrow (September 12) at 7:00 p.m.

We’ve also tired to pull the stories together in two sets of DVDs. Here’s more information on how you can own them for yourself. We are very proud of the work we’ve done on this project, and hope you’ll not only want to have these DVDs for your collection, but also as a way to show your support for what we’ve done and are continuing to do for our community.

In just a couple of weeks, America will be talking about WWII when The War debuts on PBS stations across the country. But here in St. Louis, we’ve been hearing, recording, telling and showing stories for months, and what we’ve learned has moved us in ways I don’t think we imagined when we began. So allow us a moment—but just a moment—to look back and smile on the work done. Thanks.

Mike 

More on Monday Night

September 7, 2007

Here’s a little bit more on our Your Stories program coming up Monday night:

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Tune in for a Summary, if You Will

September 5, 2007

This coming Monday night is shaping up to be an exciting night for us, and we hope for you. Starting at 7:00 p.m. right here on KETC/Channel 9, we are going broadcast a special program that will serve as a summary—if you will—of our Your Stories project by featuring many of the stories you’ve seen on Living St. Louis as well as some of the other pieces we’ve created (or are creating) for the project. It should be a moving night of television.

Full disclosure: the program is a pledge program, and we are going to be asking for your support to help us with this project and future projects like it. But we hope the night will show you the sort of impact the project has had, and continues to have.

I’m going to try and post a promo as soon as I can get it, and hopefully that will give you more a feel for what we are doing. But please tune in Monday if you can. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  

The Art of War

August 27, 2007

There were artists in World War II, though the veterans I have interviewed wouldn’t consider themselves such.  But I have seen their works, either on a voluntary basis or by pawing through pristine museums they refer to as “boxes of old junk.”

They sketched, they carved, they took remarkable photos.  They drew cartoons.  They kept concise, thrilling journals and they sent home hundreds of beautiful letters.  They crafted gleaming objets d’art from spent artillery shells and wrecked airplanes.

Pocket-sized works created during the quiet moments of war.  Young men who couldn’t know they would never forget and they grabbed what they could of their strange and sudden new world.

Walter J. Ruegg wrote his first five poems as an automatic rifleman with the First U.S. Cavalry in the Philippine Islands.  He finished them in the hospital.  His wound was a bad one–he is one of few people who could identify his own intestines in a lineup–and the circumstances following it were less than ideal.  He said that putting these events into poetic form helped him to “cope with the unacceptability of war.”  He made it home to his wife and son and forgot about the poems.

The loss of his beloved wife Marie in 2002 devastated Mr. Ruegg.  Forget about his war experience, that was a sock hop compared to this new, otherworldly pain.  He returned to writing to combat the depression of losing his best friend, a woman he fell in love with after one glimpse from a street car in 1940.  The 250 poems he has since published in her honor are a tribute to that day and every day thereafter that he shared with her.  They also solve the riddle of how he once survived an unsurvivable injury: there was no way he was not going home to her.  Now his poetry keeps Marie nearby, for any reader to meet and admire.

Accept a volume of his poems with caution. Read enough of them and insecurity sets in, panic, in fact, just go ahead and know that no one will ever write poetry like this about you (me) and try to move on with your life.  Unless you are one in a million, a girl you’d save the world for, a girl like Marie Ruegg.

Click here to view Mr. Ruegg’s interview and poems.

Another D-Day, Part 2

August 27, 2007

Our good friends at YouTube were kind enough to allow us to upload Anne-Marie Berger’s story on the Iwo Jima Marines (even though it’s over the 10 minute limit). Here it is:

Another D-Day

August 24, 2007

D-Day has become known to most of us as June 6, 1944, but in reality the term “D-Day” in the military sense can mean the beginning date for any major attack or operation. And while the Allied invasion of Normandy was a defining event of World War II, there were quite a few other “D-Days” that were also instrumental in the winning of the war. Many of those other “D-Days” took place in the Pacific, and one of the bloodiest for American Marines took place at Iwo Jima.

Here is a link to a story by Anne-Marie Berger about that battle and the men who fought it (Note: We are trying to get this story uploaded to YouTube, but it is longer than they allow. I’m seeing what we can do).

So next time you happen to use the term D-Day, remember that for quite a few veterans it may have a whole other meaning.