URI millennials hear from World War II Veterans

With Veterans day coming up this weekend, students from the URI Harrington School of Communications hosted the event Bringing History to Life: Millennials to Meet World War II Veterans on Wednesday.

Brandon Lovejoy, a junior public relations major, was the student who assembled the press releases and was in charge of making sure the event gathered a crowd to witness stories told by the veterans.

“We were really excited about this project because we got this chance to engage with these WW2 veterans which is something we knew we wouldn’t get the chance to do again,” said Lovejoy.

This event shed light on United States history and gave students the opportunity to appreciate veterans who fought to mold better present time. Lovejoy implemented the importance of younger generations now, and generations to come, knowing what the United States went through during times like WW2.

“It all goes back to that quote that everyone knows,” said Lovejoy. “If you know your history you know the present. I think that by knowing the history and by hearing these veteran’s stories all of us understand how we can make the world a better place.”

The veterans who spoke included Joseph Aquilante form North Providence, Leo Heroux from Central Falls, Richard Fazzio from Woonsocket and a former URI Professor Dr. George Fitzelle. Some of the questions asked ranged from how they prepared for Doomsday, what the Great Depression was like and who would they like to enjoy a cup of coffee with?

Veteran Heroux told a story about finding the love of his life, and wife, during the war while he was in France. Heroux was ordered to move cows out of a French farmer’s yard and one day he laid his eyes on the farmer’s daughter. From that day forward, Heroux was in love. During a depressing time for most, tragedy met love and, in an odd context, war seemed to be the right place at the right time. Heroux’s story of love deserves more than a few sentences, though.

In relation to the round table talk as a unite, each topic of conversation sparked was geared toward creating an awareness of the lives that WW2 veterans lived in order for younger generations to prosper today.

“World War 2 has done a lot to turn the world’s perspective from that of creating and starting these wars to working for solutions to stop them and prevent them in the first place, said Lovejoy. “I think it’s our job as young people to know the past, learn the past, and stop massive violence in the future.”

PRS 340, Public Relations, was the class that put together the event. The director of the World War II Foundation, Tim Gray, reached out to students to create a public relations campaign that aligned with his premiered film Journey Home to the USS Arizona. The film is being shown at the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport, RI.