Monday, November 8, 2010
Dallas chapter of Daughters of World War II honors veterans
The brand-new organization kicks off on Veteran's Day.
DALLAS Deborah Guerriero and Dallas first lady Laura Leppert have teamed up to start Daughters of World War II, an organization aimed at honoring American World War II veterans and preserving the legacy of their service. The Daughters will launch the new organization November 11, Veterans Day, with a luncheon and awards ceremony attended by 100 veterans at the Hall of State in Fair Park.
Leppert and Guerriero met through the political organization First Republican Women’s Club, but soon discovered they had a connection that went much deeper than politics. Both women’s fathers were among the first American forces to enter Nagasaki, Japan, after the United States dropped the atomic bomb in 1945. Guerriero and Leppert don’t know if their fathers ever knew each other, but sharing remembrances of their loved ones motivated the women to work together to preserve their own fathers’ stories and those of all the World War II heroes.
World War II veterans are withering away at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day. Too often, their stories are lost with them. “Our fathers never spoke of the war,” Guerriero said. “These guys were just kids when they went and they grew up very fast. It was just so fresh when they came back, and they lost so many of their buddies … they couldn’t do it until time came around, and maybe they could tell their grandchildren.”
The goal of the Daughters of World War II is to find these veterans, honor their service, and preserve their stories. They invite those who served as well as their daughters and granddaughters to contact the organization. Historian Joyce Hanson is conducting interviews and documenting history as it is relayed by those who lived it. The undertaking is massive, but when reminded that nearly 16 million men and women served in World War II, approximately 2 million of whom are still living, Hanson said she hoped every one of them would contact her.
The Daughters of World War II are also collecting memorabilia such as the personal photographs of the devastation of Hiroshima taken by Guerriero’s father on his entrance to the Japanese city as part of an American reconnaissance team after the bombing. The organization hopes eventually to procure a place in the Hall of State for permanent display space for these relics. Kickoff efforts begin this week with the Daughter’s inaugural luncheon on a most appropriate date — Veteran’s Day. During the event, James “Maggie” Magellas of the 82nd Airborne Division will be awarded the first “Allies for Freedom” award. Magellas is the most decorated officer in the history of that division and is known for his contribution to multiple European battles, including the Battle of the Bulge.
“The time is now for us to begin, and to spread the word, far and wide,” Guerriero said. “Honoring our fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, who gave so much for our freedom, and for the freedom of the world-at-large, is an essential American legacy that we must begin now so that we can educate people for generations to come.”
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