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Art&Seek Jr: Discover Living History on Veterans Day
by Therese Powell 6 Nov 2012

Take the opportunity this Veterans Day to introduce your kids to those who have served our country at these local events.

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Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

Credit: DVDP (Greater Dallas Veterans Foundation)

I’ve been working at KERA for a long time (I won’t say how long for fear of dating myself) and one of the perks of the job is getting to meet interesting, important and influential people on a regular basis. Thanks to the programming here, we’ve had everyone from rock stars to former presidents in our hallowed halls. Some of these individuals I was only able to exchange a few pleasantries with as I walked them to the set, but on other occasions, I’ve been lucky enough to do lengthy interviews and really get to know the person sitting across from me. The most memorial stories I ever heard came from very ordinary people who were called upon to do the extraordinary.

In 2007, when Ken Burns’ World War II series, The War premiered on KERA, I was tasked with creating profile pieces of local WWII veterans to air as companion pieces around the Burns series. I’d worked on several history documentaries in the past, and my own father was in the Navy during WWII, so I was confident I knew everything there was to know about the history of this war and I had an idea of how the stories would go.  After two days of interviews what I discovered was much more than a history lesson. What was revealed to me were stories of  humanity and sacrifice like I could have never imagined. There was something about hearing personal recollections face-to-face that somehow made it more real to me than if I’d read them in a book. I listened to a man named Al tell me about the D-Day invasion. He was just 19 years-old when he ran up on Omaha Beach under heavy enemy fire. As he watched his friends die around him and wondered if he’d get out alive himself, he thought about his parents. He hoped they didn’t know where he was at that moment because he didn’t want them to worry. He was so unassuming and matter-of-fact as he told me this harrowing tale of bravery. Like everyone else I spoke to that day, Al didn’t consider himself special. He just did what he was called to do. Later that night, I got a heavy dose of perspective when I overheard a 19-year-old talk about his greatest ambition – to be able to complete a back flip off the top of a refrigerator. The term “Greatest Generation” suddenly had a whole new meaning for me.

About two years ago, I ran into Al and a group of WWII veterans at a McDonalds having breakfast. As I went up to say hello I leaned down and said to Rose, “See these guys right here? They’re super heroes. A long time ago they saved the world.” You can introduce your child to real life super heroes at one of the following events this weekend honoring veterans:

On Sunday at Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth Taps ‘n Tunes Productions will present  A Salute to Our Veterans. There will be a USO-style show with songs and dance at 6 p.m. Be sure you and the kids get there early so you will get a chance to visit with veterans from 4 – 5:45.

Veterans will be honored this weekend at the Edgewood Heritage Festival in Van Zandt County. The festival, which is marking its 36th year, takes place on the grounds of the Heritage Park outdoor museum. The fun includes live music, arts and crafts, a vintage car show, and lots of food and drink. There will also be a children’s area.

Lastly, if you can spring the kids from school on Monday at 11 a.m., you won’t want to miss Dallas’ 2012 Veterans Parade. The parade route starts at Union Station, snakes its way around downtown Dallas and ends in front of City Hall. If you can’t stay for the parade, military vehicles and equipment and veterans organizations will be in front of City Hall before the parade at 9:30 a.m.

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 7-year-old daughter, Rose.  Tell us about yourquirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].

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