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The Last Good War

Created date

December 21st, 2010

12 million American men and women of every color, religion, and creed were serving our nation in World War II. These brave individuals had the support and admiration of the entire country and this unity of purpose is one reason why the legendary historian Studs Terkel called WWII, the last good war. Sixty years later, a young photographer, captivated by this unique generation of warriors, set out to chronicle their stories. The result is a striking new book, The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II, by Thomas Sanders. Working with writer Veronica Kavass, Sanders profiles volunteers, draftees, code breakers, soldiers, pilots, and others. Sanders says the first WWII veteran he photographed was Lt. Randall Harris who showed Sanders a six-inch scar on his abdomen and recounted the story of how an S-mine explosion left him literally holding his intestines. As he waited for medical treatment, a medic approached him and offered to move him to the head of the long line of injured. Harris refused, saying No one touches me, until all my men have been attended to.

The inspiration

I was a 21-year-old college senior at the time Randall told me his story. I was stressing about my future as a photographer, my final exams, and the girl s phone number I was striving to get that weekend. When Randall was my age, his only goal was to live to the next day. I couldn t even fathom what that would feel like. Right then, I made a spontaneous decision. I was going to photograph and document as many World War II vets as I possibly could. Sanders traveled around the country photographing and interviewing vets with writer Veronica Kavass who was also struck by the unique qualities of that generation. I learned that that they handled their dramatic circumstances with incredibly positive attitudes, says Kavass. And that fear does not conquer all. They were all so united on most of the same concerns. That s never been the case for any other American generation. The Last Good Waris full of beautiful portraits and amazing recollections from a diverse group of veterans. I hope when people see my images of the WWII veterans and read their stories, they become more appreciative of all veterans and soldiers, says Sanders. It doesn t matter if they saw battle or not, if they were prepared to fight or fought. It doesn t matter if they were in Germany, Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq. They have all made sacrifices for our safety and future and have earned our gratitude. The Last Good War($45 Welcome Books) is available atAmazon.comand bookstores everywhere.