War history. Veteran Stories. Why are they important?
I didn’t know. My dad didn’t know. I’m not entirely sure my grandmother knew. A small group of us sat in awed silence as my grandad recounted living through the catastrophic sinking of the HMT Rohna.We were awed to learn my grandad, a World War II veteran, was the survivor of a ship sunk by a Luftwaffe attack off the Mediterranean coast. Over 1,000 men were lost in the attack. Veiled in secrecy for years, the sinking of the HMT Rohna was the largest loss of US troops at sea.
My granddad was one of the 606 survivors of the November 26th, 1943 attack, and he clung to life in the ocean for days before his rescue. As one of the few survivors, he was one of the lucky ones.
The event was catastrophic. So much so, that the US Government veiled the incident in secrecy until 1996, almost 50 years after the incident.
How do you tell a story that was classified and veiled in secrecy for over 50 years?
How do you gather facts on a tragedy filled with “strong silent” types? It’s impossible to learn and tell a story unless you’re first ready to listen.
While he lived through a historic event, my granddad rarely spoke of his experiences.
Granddad is gone now, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities I had to hear about his WWII experiences. Had I not talked to him about his experience in World War II, his story would be lost forever with his passing.
History is important and there are stories to be told.
That’s why we’re launching iHistory WWII. We’re working in cooperation with the Library of Congress to bring stories of veterans to life. iHistoryWWII is providing students with the opportunity to hear stories first hand, and the chance to win free equipment for their classroom!
Visit our website, and stay tuned for more details!