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  • Sally Jameson Bond

The American Veterans Center


I use four email addresses. One is relatively new—my author Gmail account (sally.jameson.bond@gmail.com)—another Gmail I’ve had for a while, one from my former employer, and one I’ve had almost since the beginning of time (twenty-four years, I think), when AOL (aka America Online) was the go-to online service provider for almost the entire world. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but in 1997, about half of U.S. homes with internet connections used AOL for that access. I bet some of you used it. And it’s still out there.


I use AOL almost exclusively for online ordering, travel bookings, and charitable donations. It keeps my other email accounts free from spam and junk and clutter—mostly—sort of. One part of my daily routine involves deleting most or all the emails from my AOL account. While I’m eating lunch here in my room, I grab my cell phone, click on the AOL icon, and commence deleting. If I do it every day, there are usually twenty-five or thirty new emails to delete. A few days ago, it was L.L. Bean <delete> <delete>; Panera Bread <delete> <delete>; Coldwater Creek <delete> <delete>; Vitamin Shoppe <delete> <delete>; Kroger <delete> <delete>; Travelsmith <delete> <delete>; PetSmart <delete> <delete>; Acorn Online <delete> <delete>; Virginia State Parks <delete> <delete>; AAA <delete> <delete>; Joseph Mantegna <delete> . . . whoa! . . . wait a minute . . . back up . . . maybe I’d better open this one . . . I’m curious.


I’m glad I opened it. Mr. Mantegna (actor, writer, director, producer) was writing on behalf of the American Veterans Center (https://www.americanveteranscenter.org/). I had never heard of this organization, so after reading his somewhat lengthy email (and yes, he was asking for money), I toggled over to their web page, and I liked what I saw. Within fifteen minutes, I had sent them a donation. His efforts worked.


According to the receipt sent to my AOL account . . .


The mission of the American Veterans Center (AVC) is to guard the legacies and honor the sacrifices of all American veterans. Through oral history preservation, documentary films, educational programs and civic events, the AVC works to ensure that Americans fully appreciate—and never forget—the sacrifices made by those who have worn the uniform.


Mr. Mantegna’s involvement in this organization stems from his relationship with his Uncle Willie who served in General George Patton’s Third Army in World War II. His uncle was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge and earned a Purple Heart. At some point, Mr. Mantegna decided he would do whatever he could to honor the valor of all who served during that war as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars.


The AVC sends crews around the country to professionally film the personal memories of our aging veterans. Then, they post them on their YouTube page. Each interview is also donated to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, and they’re made available on request to museums and documentary films.


The AVC has identified more than two hundred stories to film as soon as they can manage to do it. (And certainly, the pandemic has really slowed them down over the past year and several months.) On this list are:


• The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese American unit that became the most decorated unit in American military history for its size and length of service. Twenty-one Medals of Honor and over 4,000 Purple Hearts were awarded to members of this unit who fought in Italy, southern France, and Germany.


The Ritchie Boys, a special unit comprised largely of Jewish immigrants and refugees from Germany and Austria who were trained in counterintelligence and sent back to Europe with the U.S. Army to help defeat the Nazis.


Royce Williams, the top scoring naval aviator during the Korean War and the only pilot to shoot down four Soviet MIG-15s in one fight.


Rosie the Riveters, the American women on the home front who built the planes, tanks, and ships that were so crucial to the Allied victory during WWII.


The AVC estimates it needs $500,000.00 to capture all the oral histories from the World War II veterans on their waiting list. It is not my intention to solicit donations for this or any other charitable organization. My goal is to inform my readers about organizations that are involved with The Greatest Generation. And maybe you know a veteran whose story needs to be told, captured, and saved for future generations who won’t have had the privilege of knowing or meeting a World War II veteran. Now you know about the American Veterans Center in Arlington, Virginia. I hope you’ll check them out.


Blessings to all.



Sally Jameson Bond is retired and lives in Southwest Virginia with her husband and two dogs. My Mother’s Friend is her first novel. You can find her web site here: www.sallyjamesonbond.com.


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