Photographer Tom Graves of San Francisco has produced a collection of photos and interviews of war veterans from WWII and the Korean War. “Heroes All!” is currently being exhibited at the May Gallery at Webster University in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves until March 24. Mr. Graves hopes his exhibit will encourage people to talk to older folks and learn their amazing stories. He notes, “unfortunately, most of these stories, and most of this knowledge is going to disappear before it’s ever passed on to someone…”
After the wonderful learning experience I had writing and publishing my mother’s story, “Cherry Blossoms in Twilight: Memories of a Japanese Girl,” I certainly can relate to Mr. Graves’ feelings about the need to capture the histories of our elder generation. The people of that particular generation have lived through such significant events in history … the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, WWII, the Korean War, etc. and their personal experiences are in danger of being lost as these elders are in their last years of life. Their stories are not found in school history books. Their stories are unique and tell what really happened to ordinary people. Mr. Graves says that several veterans told him, “you read about it in the history books, but I was there and what I experienced was different from that…”
I had the honor of speaking with Mr. Graves and thanked him for his wonderful project. His photos of the veterans are beautifully done in black and white. I especially enjoyed reading about Japanese-American war vets, Tuskegee Airmen, and several women in service. I join Mr. Graves in the hope that others will take the time to ask their own older relatives about their lives.