I’ve had many delightful, meaningful experiences in my 29 years in professional communications, but nothing compares to the experience Saturday, July 16. This isn’t about a crisis–at least not a current one–so I’m diverging from crisisblogger fare for a moment.
As some of you know, I wrote a book on a WWII fighter pilot who, along with 81 other Americans and 167 other Allied flyers were designated “terrorists” by Hitler and sent to Buchenwald, the infamously brutal concentration camp for execution. The book was called “A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald: the Joe Moser Story.” The book has sold very well and I’ve had the privilege of speaking with Joe Moser at countless events–he is turning 90 soon and still doing very well.
A couple of years ago I was contacted by a filmmaker in California who was starting a documentary on his grandfather. Col. E.C. Freeman, who happened to be one of those American flyers in Buchenwald. Mike Dorsey, the filmmaker, agreed to expand the scope of the film and I would help find investors for the film–hence my title Executive Producer. The world premiere of “Lost Airmen of Buchenwald” was held at Bellingham’s historic Mount Baker Theatre, to a sold-out crowd of 1500.
Joe Moser, the 89 year old P-38 pilot, and Mike Dorsey were joined on stage by Ed Carter-Edwards from Ontario, Canada, a fellow airman/survivor of Buchenwald. I cannot begin to tell you what it meant to me to have the packed audience of 1500 give these men a standing ovation. Nor to have Ed tell us the next day at brunch that this was the best day of his life–a man who holds many prestigious medals including the French Legion Medal of Honor–the highest honor given by the French government. I do not think there were many dry eyes in the house and mine are not dry now as I write this.
The pictures below can help you get a sense of the joy and meaning of this occasion. We have received a number of wonderful comments on the film’s Facebook page from those who were at the premiere. By what means the most to me is to know that the incredible story of what these brave men endured in the name of our freedom is becoming known. That these humble, old gentlemen are finally receiving the honor, recognition and appreciation for all they did for us–even while knowing that they are accepting this recognition on behalf of so many who never had this opportunity to share their story.
We hope to have DVD’s available for sale soon and perhaps some theatrical screenings. If you get a chance to see the film, don’t miss it.