When I write about World War II, my dad’s spirit seems to hover close as I puzzle over maps and history books.
I used to call to tell him what I was writing about, who I interviewed and why, and especially about my overnight trip on the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy in 2000.
Five years ago I went along when Cole Land Transportation Museum borrowed a Pan Am to fly 140 veterans and community members to see the World War II Memorial in Washington.
My dad was gone by then, but I had in my pocket his World War II dog tags. I asked Tom Hardy, a Navy veteran from Bangor, to hold up the dog tags in the Pacific Theater pavilion at one end of the memorial so I could take a picture.
My dad had earned three battle stars on the Landing Craft Infantry 565 at Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa. Tom Hardy earned nine battle stars during his time in the Pacific.
In Washington, we also visited the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
The World War II Memorial is just stunning.
“It meant so much to me to see the Memorial,” Sid Buzzell said to me later that day as the group continued its pilgrimage in our national’s capital.
A staff sergeant in the 692nd Field Artillery, Sid landed on Utah Beach in June 1944 during the invasion of Normandy.
He graduated from Sangerville High School in 1943 in the building where I later attended school through grade six.
His wife, Ruth, was my junior choir director, and daughters Jeanne and Helen were in school with me in Sangerville and Guilford.
All of that occurred years before he became an ordained Methodist minister and I a reporter — roles where we would meet again.
I write this just hours after reading Sid Buzzell’s obituary in the Bangor Daily News on Aug. 26.
Tom Hardy is gone, now, too, and Fran Zelz, who twice saved the crew members on his minesweeper in the Pacific; Del Merrill, a Marine who fought at Iwo Jima; and Andrew and Ruby Maliszewski of Verona, who walked hand in hand as they visited each memorial in 2000.
As with my father and Sid Buzzell, I feel their spirits, still.
Communities, organizations and churches statewide will ring bells noon-1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.
At 1 p.m., Cole Land Transportation Museum at 405 Perry Road, Bangor, will welcome veterans and the public to a commemoration that will include an ice cream social.
In recent years, more than 20,000 Maine youngsters have interviewed veterans at the museum through the Ambassadors of Freedom program.
Those who visit Cole Land Transportation Museum may do the same this week. They are invited to interview a World War II veteran 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 30-Sept. 1 and 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 2.
Historian Louis Stevens will give a program on the Oakes Family at the meeting of the Wassebec Genealogy Chapter at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, in the conference room at Mayo Regional Hospital on Main Street in Dover-Foxcroft.
Refreshments will be served. Members and nonmembers are welcome to attend this presentation. For more information, contact the Bennetts at 876-3073 evenings.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, Wassebec Genealogy Chapter will host a workshop with genealogist Nina Brawn from 9 a.m. to noon at the Thompson Free Library on Main Street in Dover-Foxcroft.
Brawn, who writes a column for the Piscataquis Observer, will offer tips and information on how to organize your data, photos and other snatches of paper we all seem to collect in various notebooks and folders.
The workshop is open to beginners as well as more experienced researchers. For more information, contact the Bennetts at 876-3073 evenings.
The Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 29 Ocean Road, Cape Elizabeth. The meeting is free and open to the public.
The speaker will be Fred Boyle of Springvale, a former certified genealogist who is a resident of Springvale
A retired teacher, he has developed a second career as a genealogist, serving a multitude of clients and personally publishing a number of “Early Families” books on Sanford, Shapleigh, Acton and Alfred.
Boyle also is the author of the “Folsom Genealogy, Vol. IV” and “Hatevil Nutter of Dover, NH and His Descendants.” Currently he is at work on “Early Families of Waterborough, Maine,” which will probably be published in 2011.
For more information, call Linda at 490-5709.
In last week’s column on the Civil War service of the 22nd Maine Infantry, I should have written that they were with the 1st Brigade, 4th Division, 19th Army Corps, Army Gulf, to July 1863, rather than 1862.
Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.