Saturday, November 10, 2012

Greenburgh veterans living history featured in NEWSDAY story

Greenburgh exhibit gives life to WWII veterans

Veterans and their families are silhouetted as they
Photo credit: AP
The memories of 90 World War II local veterans will live on forever in a series of video interviews that have found a home in the new “Veterans” section at the Greenburgh Town Liibrary.
The collection tells the story of 90 men – now in their 80s and 90s – who were barely out of their teens when they went to do battle overseas between 1941 and 1945, said Alan Hochberg, 71, of Hartsdale, who worked on the oral history project with Steve Wittenberg, commander of the American Legion post in the village of Ardsley.
The videos, which run 30 minutes to an hour, were taped over the last three years as the two worked together to round up a range of WWII vets from Marines, soldiers and prisoners of war to naval officers, a Tuskegee Airman and pilots who flew B-17 bombers over Germany.
“Now young people can understand what the World II men and women actually performed for this nation,” said Hochberg, adding that even he was “personally moved to really understand the real lives of people who hit the beaches of Normandy, Guadalcanal, Saipan and Iwo Jimo.”
The volunteer project was made possible with an assist from the town, which supplied a room for interviewing along with equipment, said Hochberg, who also happens to be a volunteer assistant to town supervisor Paul Feiner. Hochberg’s other municipal activities include heading up the Greenburgh Citizens Advisory Commission, which makes recommendations to Feiner on municipal matters.
The oral history CDs began showing up at the town library last spring, with about 70 available now. The rest are still being formatted for CD and should be on the shelves by year end, said Hochberg.
Unfortunately, some interviewees are no longer here to see the project’s completion. After conducting one sit-down, “I called the next week to ask a question and he had died,” said Hochberg. “That really hit home how frail some of these people are.”
While many of the veterans are now fragile, “others are phenomenal. They play tennis, they're active in their communities….maybe only two weren't good interviews because they weren't lucid. But 88 were perfect.”
Hochberg is in the process of getting releases from the survivors so that their recorded memories can be set to the archives at the Library of Congress. The town is also holding a 1 p.m. Veterans Day ceremony tomorrow at the Hartsdale train station, where some of the stories will be shared.

Tags: World War 2 , Veterans Day , Greenburgh , Paul Feiner , American Legion , Ardsley