Friday, June 19, 2015

From Kent County to North Africa

On 6/16/15, Joe and I interviewed Patsy Skirven. Skirven is her maiden name, but she prefers it over "Reihl" because she like to keep connected with other people in the Kent County area named Skirven.

The story of hers that really struck me the most was the one where she visited her Uncle's grave in North Africa.  Throughout that part of the interview, she was tearing up and almost started to cry. What happened was, her Uncle was one of the first to be drafted and fought in North Africa.  In early parts of the war, American soldiers were relatively ill-prepared and he died.  Due to all the commotion at the time, he was buried in North Africa.  They just couldn't ship his body back.  It was tricky and took nearly a year, but she and her husband were able to visit his gravesite because a cruise stopped in Tunisia.

The thing about this gravesite was that it wasn't visited often.  She recalled the Normandy cemetery being the most famous of the WWII cemeteries.  The North African American Cemetery was harder to visit.  As the guide pointed out, she and her husband were its 4th visitor.  I don't know if it was 4th that year or 4th total, but it's still a number that is a lot lower than the visitors to Normandy's.  It was interesting and sad to hear about a near empty yet well maintained cemetery that not even I knew about until the interview.

This interview was probably the most emotional interview of the ones that I conducted.  Even though it was long, I still enjoyed listening to it again to index and transcribe it.  Even if I forget the rest of the interviews I do, I don't think that I'll forget this one.

--Elijah McGuire-Berk

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