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Filmmakers travel the country to document stories of WWII veterans

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Posted at 2:44 PM, Nov 11, 2021

Every year on Veterans Day, we honor those who served the country.

For two women, honoring veterans is a year-long mission. They make that happen with a full tank of gas and a whole lot of camera equipment packed up for the trip. A small crew is making sure some stories will be heard forever.

“My grandfather served in the Navy,” said filmmaker Elizabeth Suter. “William Spears. He never really talked about what happened in World War II. Now, as an adult, I look back and think there’s this huge amount of his life I didn’t know. Those things that happened to him in World War II are part of what shaped him.”

This realization led to a calling for Elizabeth.

“We’re losing about 245 World War II veterans a day,” she continued. “In the US, there’s about 240,000 left. It puts such an urgency on us to travel.”

Friend Tracie Hunter is the founder of the nonprofit Beyond the Call. She and Elizabeth go across the country shooting interviews with World War II veterans.

“We’ll hop in the car, literally drive across Texas to El Paso to shoot a story,” she smiled. “We’ll drive up to Ohio to capture a story.”

It’s veterans like Dan McBride.

“He was at D-Day,” said Elizabeth. “At the time of World War II, paratrooping was in its infancy. America sent the guys over. This was the first time paratrooping was used in a war situation. Many of these guys, the first plane they got into, they also jumped out of.”

“Where did you grow up?” asked Elizabeth on a Zoom call with Dan.

“Well, I haven’t!” he laughed.

Seventy-six years since the end of the war, Dan remembers the key dates of his story.

“First time I jumped out? October 8, 1942,” Dan said. “Fort Benning, Georgia. I was 18-years-old.”

“Wow. Were you scared?”

“When the guy said, ‘Go!’, I figured, ah, what the hell. I went, and I loved it!”

“These stories are so vital for future generations,” Elizabeth said. “To date, we have filmed 25 veterans’ stories.”

Of those, some of the stories are on the Beyond the Call YouTube channel. Others, like Dan’s story, are featured in their film streaming through Vimeo On Demand, A Rendezvous With Destiny.

“We are all one generation from being forgotten,” said Elizabeth. “What we can do is document these stories so they are not forgotten. That’s the big thing with Beyond the Call is keeping these stories alive.”