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A Mission To Find Every WWII Veteran Before It’s Too Late

There are a few thousand left to share their story

On December 7,1941, following the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States of America entered World War II.

Millions of American men and women were called to action to both fight for the nation abroad and to work for the cause in the United States.

While the stories of WWII are often romanticized in Hollywood through movies and television, the real life tales can be much harsher, messier, and more tragic than one could ever imagine. That’s why Rishi Sharma, a 19-year-old from Agoura Hills, California, is crisscrossing the country to capture the true story of war before those memories die with those who lived it.

"I've been one of the many recipients of their sacrifices," Sharma told KPCC, an NPR affiliate station in California. "I feel it is my responsibility to really understand what that bloodshed and sacrifice is like for their generation."

Sharma has been captivated by the stories of veterans since his junior year of high school. The teenager has recorded the stories of more than 400 veterans.

“I spend literally every single day either at a veteran's home, at a senior home, in a hospital, documenting these World War II veterans in—what is for many of them—their dying words,” Sharma said of how his journey began.

Image via GoFundMe

He now records an interview every three days. There, he hears about moments like these from Steve Politis, a 100-year-old veteran who served in the Army Signal Corps and who watched one of his fellow soldiers die:

"When we hit the beach, we were all hit, and the medics couldn't get to us. I could hear him singing ‘I'll Be Seeing You.’ And then he stopped. So, I listened to him die. It still bugs me."

Sharma plans to continue his journey for the next five years, or until the very last story can be shared. Check out his GoFundMe campaign to learn more.

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