Interviews aren’t always easy. Some people love to talk, others squirm and analyze their answers. There has been good chats and talks, like the one with Cora, and thoughtful, quiet interviews with veterans. J.D. Rhodes, through the help of his wife, discovered gardening as a way to deal with his personal struggles. His wife encouraged the new hobby and the first year, they planted 87 rose bushes. Then he started planting tree day lilies that grew 6-foot tall. When his wife passed away in 2004, he gave up his gardens, only to discover he needed the hobby to properly grieve for his wife. One day, he brought me four or five lily blooms to the Daily Telegraph office. The scent filled up the newsroom for days. Mr. Rhodes’ story appeared in the spring 2012 issue of Prerogative Magazine. My favorite part of the story is how he would pick roses before work. For every rose, his wife would give him a kiss. Twenty-seven roses meant 27 kisses.
Every veteran or Rosie the Riveter has a story to tell, but not all share their past with the world. From elementary school to now, there is a responsibility to be accurate and respectful. It is my job to record their story for future generations because it was their job to defend our country and help with the war effort. On Memorial Day, there will be a chance to read about a soldier in a newspaper, magazine or on the Internet. Like me, you might not understand, or comprehend the words on the page. My great uncle Roy knew this when I interviewed him in elementary school. Looking back, he took great care to edit my work. I wonder if he knew I would grow up to be a writer. Or maybe he wanted to show me how I could honor those who played an important role in freedom — with stories and words.
Jamie Parsell is the lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BDTParsell.