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Saturday, April 11, 2009

TRIBUTE: Why I cannot wait until Memorial Day

Ol’ Myrt here has tender feelings about the vanishing numbers of WWII vets, and the supreme sacrifice made by others during that global war. I cannot wait until Memorial Day to tell you about TRIBUTE, a thoughtful photo journey through the National WWII Memorial by Duane A. Lempke, because I am quite sure you’ll want to obtain a copy in advance to share with your loved ones over that holiday weekend in May and for years to come.

The Back Story
Last month, I attended Jack Naylor’s funeral in Bradenton, Florida. He served during WWII, and in fact, the back pain that worsened in his later years is directly attributed to his plane having been shot down twice in the Pacific during the war. His wife Elsie, one of my dearest friends, served in the American Red Cross in England, France, Japan and Korea in support of our servicemen and women. She has taught me much about Gold Star Mothers, and the final navigation efforts her brother Arthur Barks made that insured the safety of the rest of his crew and plane. Mortally wounded, Arthur managed to chart a safe course, before his body and all other “extra weight” was jettisoned into the English Channel in order that his crippled plane could make it back to England after a bombing raid in Germany.
My Uncle Jack served in the US Navy, and in fact was part of the struggle at Guadalcanal. My father served as a neurologist at an Army hospital in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Growing up, a friend of mine had a father who only late in our teens showed us pictures about his time on PT-109 with Jack Kennedy, our former US President. Somehow, those folks didn’t really talk about their service much. Indeed, for many reasons, the men and women of WII service and support are truly “the greatest generation” as Tom Brokaw wrote.

The National WWII Memorial
The dedication of the National World War II Memorial took place on Saturday, May 29, 2004 and I was unable to attend. My first trip to DC since then was this past winter, and you can bet that visiting the Memorial was on the top of my list of things to do.

From the National WWII Memorial website we read the purpose of the memorial is to “honor the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home. Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial is a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation and to the broader causes of peace and freedom from tyranny throughout the world. It will inspire future generations of Americans, deepening their appreciation of what the World War II generation accomplished in securing freedom and democracy. Above all, the memorial stands as an important symbol of American national unity, a timeless reminder of the moral strength and awesome power that can flow when a free people are at once united and bonded together in a common and just cause.”

What is Duane Lempke’s TRIBUTE?
Before visiting the Memorial, my friend Gordon Erickson, past president of the Fairfax Genealogical Society and FGS Board member, showed me a book titled TRIBUTE: A pictorial of the National World War II Memorial. The book, which now sites on the coffee table in my living room, is filled with high-quality of photos taken by Gordon's friend and neighbor Duane Lempke.

Ol' Myrt here was not prepared for the emotion just viewing the pictures would bring to my mind and heart. TRIBUTE contains the layout of the state pillars, the Atlantic and Pacific Pavilions, maps of the memorial in relationship to other memorials on the mall and most importantly photos of each part of the memorial. Those photos, even as I write this review, still bring tears to my eyes. Duane’s work spans all four seasons, and includes some official photos in addition to candid shots of visitors. But I am not the only one who appreciates TRIBUTE.

Tom Hanks, National Spokesman, World War II Memorial Campaign and Actor said, “Duane Lempke has captured the vision, the vista, the reality and the meaning of the National World War II Memorial.” Ibid.

Tom Brokaw, News Anchor and Author said, “TRIBUTE is a beautiful and moving pictorial poem to the World War II Memorial, a great gift to the veterans, their families and the nation.” Ibid.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, 9th District, Ohio said, “If you were a visitor or have not yet seen the World War II Memorial, I strongly recommend the journey TRIBUTE will provide your family and WWII Veterans. The Memorial represents a labor of love in our nation’s Capitol and a fitting tribute honoring those whose sacrifice yielded the 20th century’s most profound legacy – the triumph of liberty over tyranny. We, the children of freedom, owe them an eternal debt of gratitude. This volume springs from the loving heart of America and stunningly captures the elegance and meaning of the WWII Memorial for generations to come. Make it a part of your memories.” Ibid.

While attending the Fairfax Genealogical Society’s annual conference last month, Ol’ Myrt here finally had the pleasure of meeting the talented photo journalist, Duane A. Lempke. [See above the photo of Ol' Myrt and Duane taken in March 2009.] Duane is a retired Colonel from the United States Army, having enlisted as a private in 1962 assigned to the Special Forces unit. Additional elements of his service career are briefly mentioned at the end of his book. However, my impression of this man is that he is humble about his own achievements, in favor of honoring our WWII veterans.

For those of you wishing to purchase the book in honor and memory of a particular service person, Duane’s book provides a fill-in-the-blank page to include title/rank, name, hometown, state, branch of service, unit, status and date of visit. You can find out more by visiting Normally, I don’t recommend ordering from individuals off the net, but I’ll vouch for this man, so you can feel comfortable ordering directly from Duane for a signed copy of TRIBUTE.

Duane Lempke
TRIBUTE 4 foundation, LLC
7424 Salford Court
Alexandria, VA 22315
w 703 321-3500
f 703 321-3580

Tell him DearMYRTLE sent you.

Frederick W. Smith, National Co-Chairman WWII Memorial Campaign, President and CEO FedEx Corporation said "TRIBUTE uniquely tells the story of the Memorial and shows the Memorial in ways only its craftsmen imagined and our veterans wanted. This wonderful book – just as the WWII Memorial itself – vividly reminds us of the great sacrifices made by so many.”

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


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This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to . Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.