Lou Baczewski, historian and author, joined “St. Louis on the Air” to talk about his efforts to document and honor his grandfather's World War II service to benefit three veterans organizations. Baczewski is the author of "Louch: A Simple Man's True Story of War, Survival, Life and Legacy.” The book chronicles his grandfather’s time growing up impoverished in rural Illinois, fighting several major battles in World War II and then returning to civilian life.
Baczewski began his project years ago after hearing WWII stories told by his grandfather. Much of the conversations served as “narrative therapy” for his grandfather, he said. Baczewski grew increasingly interested in learning more about the war, and as a result, decided to document his grandfather’s stories in writing.
“At first, he was very reluctant to speak about his experiences,” Baczewski said of his grandfather. “But the more we dug [into the stories], the more we realized that this had to be put down on paper.”
His grandfather’s stories are particularly remarkable, he said, because he was one of 18 soldiers out of 152 in his company who survived the five major campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge. “He had a perspective that was broader than the average soldier,” Baczewski explained.
In mid-June, Baczewski will travel to Europe to retrace by bicycle his grandfather’s trek with the 3rd Armored Division during World War II. He plans to ride 50 miles per day in order to complete the approximate 1,000-mile trip. Baczewski plans to document his journey in a new book, "Path of the Past."
“My thought is that if my grandfather had to take this whole distance in a substandard tank,” he said, “then I ought to make it a little bit hard on myself [by biking].”
Baczewski is looking for more volunteers and sponsors to be a part of his journey. More information on how to get involved is available on his website or by sending an email to email@example.com. Funds raised for the journey will also go to help the Gateway Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, St. Louis Fisher House and H.E.R.O.E.S. Care.
St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.