Young historian aims to gather as many WWII stories as possible
CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019 2:23PM PDT
There are hundreds of thousands of veterans to emerge from the Second World War, but many of their stories remain untold and could one day be lost.
One young man is trying to gather as many of those stories as possible, and has spent the past few years travelling the world and interviewing veterans.
Rishi Sharma, who is from California, launched the Heroes of the Second World War project as a way to gather and share war veterans' oral history. He received some oral history grants for his project and now, Sharma is in Vancouver to conduct one of those interviews.
"I've always been really interested in the war and when I was in high school I'd read personal memoirs from the veterans and I tried to look them up on the internet and I would find their phone numbers and I would call them," Sharma, who graduated in 2016, told CTV Morning Live Wednesday.
"I started riding my bike to the local retirement home and I just fell in love with it."
Since he began this project, Sharma has collected around 1,000 stories and has been across the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., New Zealand and France.
Once he gets in contact with a veteran, he meets them, interviews them and then later sends the veteran a DVD of the interview. It's then up to the veteran whether they want the interview made public or not.
Sharma feels the conversations can be rather cathartic for the veterans.
"It's so lonely when you're the only one who knows what it's like to see your best friend getting killed, or you have to kill someone," he said.
"You can't send someone to a war zone, make them go through these horrible experiences, seeing people getting killed and killing people and expect them just to keep it all inside."
Sharma added that it's crucial to gather these stories while there is time.
"It's so important that people take this opportunity while these veterans are with us," he said. "They're in their 90s and 100s, we need to be able to go meet and interact with them first hand."