The "Rest of the Story"

It really is pretty amazing, isn't it? How one small act leads to another, and another, etc. That is much of how this project came about. I also believe it is one of God's purpose’s for my life. I am often asked for more of the story of how I became involved in this project.
                                                                                                Here it is.
    It began in 2001 when my friend, our Chief of Police, asked if I would help him put together a mentoring program between law enforcement and students. Part of the program had the officers involved in the school, where I worked, helping with the curriculum, getting to know the students personally, in order to mentor them.  One officer shared with me his father's story; the Death March, disease, starvation and internment in a Japanese Prison Camp.

    Later, as my students studied WWII, I shared this neglected area of history with them. I can still picture them today; sitting, stunned and many with tears in their eyes as the reality of what these men endured for the freedom of which they (the students) were now privileged.

After presenting, I admit I was surprised at the overwhelming response of the students. They wanted to know more and wanted to write to the veterans. I was able to get addresses of men who had been in the same camp as Wayne Petrie. He is our "featured POW, our own," here in Lewiston.  (Petrie would become the Postmaster, very loved by many. See his story under the Biographies Page).

We had not expected responses, we wrote only to honor them with a thank you letter. Yet, we received so many letters in return that I felt these "submissions," along with the books, photos, and letters they also sent, needed to be preserved. And thus I began this website. Then, I was asked to volunteer with a group dedicated to preserving oral and written accounts of veterans. I now hear from people all over the world, send out mailings, help with research, and answer the questions of many who never knew what their loved one endured. It has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I have no immediate family, other than my children, and yet now I feel like I have a HUGE extended family.
Someday I hope to go to the Philippines and see where these men so bravely fought, died, and sacrificed for my freedom, for your freedom.

                                     I sum up the value of my project with this one comment from a former Camp 17 POW.
                                                   After having received a letter from the students, he wrote, in part...
                                                  "Until I received your letter, I had given up hope that anyone cared."  
                                               To the best of my ability I will not let another ever believe "no one cared."
                                                                                           July 2005 Linda Dahl

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