While the triumph of Indian American kids in the National Spelling Bee contests is the subject of Breaking the Bee documentary film by an American, an Indian American teenager is all set to record video interviews of the United States’ World War II heroes.
Rishi Sharma, a 22-year-old Indian in Los Angeles, is on a mission to preserve the precious stories and experiences of the American war veterans, who served in the Second World War, through a series of video interviews. He launched a nonprofit campaign, Heroes of the Second World War, to accomplish the mission. (Watch his video below)
Among the first-generation young Indians in California, Rishi Sharma grew up listening to the stories of bravery and sacrifice in the World War II, which instilled an overwhelming feeling of admiration in him for the war heroes of America. Fascinated by the pictures of the World War II, he cherished and nurtured a wish to learn the first-hand experiences of the American war heroes.
Of the 16 million American soldiers who served in the Second World War, about 620,000 are in their 90s. About 400 war veterans breathe their last every day, according to a report by the National World War II Museum.
When Rishi Sharma realized that neither there was a proper mechanism to preserve the fading memories and dying experiences of the grey-haired war veterans nor did the Library of US Congress have a sufficient collection of their stories, he took up this colossal task as his tribute to the American heroes who are nearing the sunset of their lives.
He has estimated a period of 10 years to cover the video interviews of the US’ surviving WWII veterans. Unlike other 19-year-olds, he has buried himself in this noble project, keeping aside the typical priorities of his age like dating and finding a job. He raised about $3,300 through crowd-funding after his person savings fell short of the campaign.
Los Angeles-based Rishi Sharma has already conducted video interviews of 250 Second World War heroes in Oregon and across the California Coast. The next destination is Arizona. He also traveled to Hawaii to catch up with a few war veterans on December 7, the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in 2016.
“These men are the biggest heroes of America. They are my closest friends too, in the sense that they unhesitatingly bare their mind to me in a censor-free environment. They have many untold stories to share and innermost thoughts to express. If this project didn’t happen to me, many unknown and lesser-known things about the World War II would have remained untapped. My project, Heroes of the Second World War, has no commercial aspects,” says Rishi Sharma from Los Angeles.