Here is a transcript of the radio piece…
The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is many things to many people. For the hundreds of school kids and other visitors who pass through, the museum is where they learn about an incomprehensible scene from world history. And for the World War II veterans who volunteer each day, the museum is where they confront war memories in a variety of different ways.
Thomas Blakey, a 94-year-old World War II veteran, volunteers at the museum every single day. Blakey began here 15 years ago, on the third floor, telling the crowds about Normandy. Now he sits at a table just inside the entrance — a living exhibit, telling stories and answering questions.
I wait for him to finish talking to a group of young people, who hang on his words: “Anything what you wanna do, you can do… you gotta want to… don’t forget it! Thank you for coming…”
Blakey looks at me skeptically when I sit down beside him for our interview, and I immediately validate skepticism by asking, “So, you used to be a paratrooper?”
“No I AM a paratrooper! Yes. I’m never NOT a paratrooper! Yes.”
After he tells me the tail of parachuting into a horrifying Nazi prison camp, Blakey scoffs when I ask him if being here ever churns up bad memories. CLICK HERE to read and hear the rest of the piece at WWNO’s website…
Or check out this video interview with Thomas Blakey, who passed away weeks after I interviewed him: