Rishi Sharma, my hero

Just heard a radio commentary about Rishi Sharma, a young man who has dedicated himself to contact living WWII veterans, and then document their lives. He started doing this when he was seventeen. There were over 16 million veterans in WWII, there are approx 650 that die each day. Only 2.8 percent of the veterans are still alive. He has just over 840 interviews done.

Check out his page, www.heroesofthesecondworldwar.org

It reminds me of my father-in-law. I found his WWII diary in his bookcase. It was the standard diary issued by the army. I was given one and left it blank. Al filled his out, sometimes in pencil. It took a long time to know his handwriting.

Al was part of five “hot landings” on beaches from Australia, up through New Guinea, Philippines, and then Japan. Every few weeks Al would update his diary, not only on what he saw, but on what he did, and what he ate. It was an honest soldier’s diary.

I asked to borrow it for awhile and he said “Sure!” It was more like three weeks, I don’t type very fast. I got the book back to Al, but then I began to research what he had written. I used several sources to create a “pull out” section to give additional details. Then I laid out the copy to create a paperback book. This was several years before the “vanity press” companies. I had to do it the old school way.

It was fortunate that I had several friends in the printing business. One friend printed the four color cover on the margin of another job he was already running. I cut the covers to match the interior pages. Another friend printed 500 copies, and yet another friend collated and trimmed the final product.

After about a month I could give my father-in-law 500 copies of his book, titled “My War”, with a $75.00 price tag. A bit high for a paperback but still a bargain, it didn’t matter because he simply handed them out to anyone who was interested.

Thinking back, it was one of the best things I’ve done for a variety of reasons. And Sharma has done this 840 times. I am so impressed.

Check out Al Goldstein


My War

and a collection of letters to his wife Anne.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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