A Tribute to Florida’s Veterans

A Tribute to Florida’s Veterans

By Bob Grenier, author of Images of America: Central Florida’s World War II Veterans

When I sat down to write Images of America: Central Florida’s World War II Veterans, I immediately realized I knew very little about World War II and that period of time — except that I love movies from the 1940s. I knew that with each passing day, we lose more and more of our World War II veterans, so I wanted to pay tribute to them by writing this book.

I traveled throughout Central Florida visiting monuments, memorials, gravesites and, most importantly, visiting with veterans — many of whom are in their nineties — to interview them about their experiences. Each veteran has their own unique story. While in their homes scanning photographs and taking notes, their heartfelt reminiscences began to touch me deeply. I remained strong in front of them, but on many occasions, I found myself with tears in my eyes on my drive home. As I wrote about these incredible people, I remembered those interviews, and emotions, once again, filled my senses, including the fear that I may never see them again.

From those who were witness to that “date which will live in infamy” to those who served in the Allied occupational forces following the victories in Europe and Japan in 1945, Images of America: Central Florida’s World War II Veterans pays tribute to the courageous men and women who sacrificed and endured through this phenomenally patriotic time in American history. The legacy these everyday heroes leave behind are the heroic, humorous, and heart-warming stories of the brave men who landed on the beaches of France and on the shore of Iwo Jima, who marched at the Battle of the Bulge and at Anzio, who flew in the Doolittle Raid, who were engaged at the pivotal Battle of Midway. Also included are those who were prisoners of war and protected our Homefront, the women who served as nurses, worked in the factories, encouraged people to purchase War Bonds, and who joined the WACS, the WAVES, and the SPARS.

Within the pages of my book is just a small number of the vast roll call of patriots who at one time called Florida home, each man and woman featured proving that ordinary, everyday people change the world.  Fascinating history is hidden in plain sight. Visit with your neighbors, participate in local events and civic groups, and remember to take time to chat with and say thank you to a veteran.
Author Bob Grenier is the curator of the Lake County Historical Museum. The 228 black and white photographs in Central Florida's World War II Veterans were compiled from historical societies and private collections throughout Florida. Learn more and purchase a copy here.