Most of us saw the YouTube video. You remember...it's the one with the WWII veteran dressed in his military uniform waving and cheering on runners. It's hard to forget the images of the runners stopping and honoring his service. I, for one, hope I never forget those images. On my Facebook feed a friend shared the video to her friends. I'm glad she did. And since it's Veterans Day I thought I'd find out a little more about that race and about the man the runners wanted to meet.
His name is Joe Bell and he's from San Jose. During WWII he was an Army corporal who trained paratroopers from Italy to Africa for the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA. He was born in Shanghai, China in 1919 and lived in China until half his family moved to the United States in the 1930s. After the war he returned to San Jose, California and he and his wife raised seven children. She passed away four years ago. Joe joined her on January 8 of this year.*
I would have liked to have met him and had a chance to talk to him. The runners in the video are running a memorial race for Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and football star killed in action. Pat was from San Jose, too. It makes the images from the video just that much more powerful.
I loved watching this video again (you can link to the YouTube video: HERE). It was taken by Joe's neighbor and reporter for the San Jose Mercury News Julia Prodis Sulek. She wrote a story after his passing and you can read that: HERE. I'm so glad she recorded the event and wrote about what happened. The video shows me that people still appreciate the sacrifices done for them by people they've never met. It restores my faith in humanity. Thank you Joe and all veterans for all you've done for me, my family and millions of others. God bless.
* Obituary information used without permission from: http://www.mercurynews.com/obituaries/ci_27291388/san-jose-wwii-veteran-joe-bell-dies-months