Those of us who live and work here at Plantation Village are fortunate to have so many WWII veterans as residents. The Greatest Generation dealt with adversity during the Great Depression, went to war because it was the right thing to do, rallied together in the face of overwhelming odds, brought victory home, and built a strong, vibrant economy for their children and grandchildren.
We felt that it was not only an honor but a responsibility to tell their stories. “Answering the Call: A Story of Everyday Valor,” is comprised of real-life accounts and personal experiences from our WWII veterans who shaped this special time in history.
Of the 28 Veterans in the book, there is only one female: Navy Veteran Susan Hollister. A spry 97-year-old, Susan is a first generation American raised by Czechoslovakian parents on a farm outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She downplays the impact of the Great Depression on her family which always had plenty to eat, imagining “City slickers didn’t fare as well, since they didn’t have a cow to get their milk from.”
Having immigrant parents who didn’t speak English, Susan did not learn to speak the language until age five or six, but that did not stop her from serving her country or succeeding in life. One afternoon she and a friend were on a lunch break from the office where they worked. An advertisement for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program caught their eye -- they walked in, and the rest is history.
During her two years in the Navy Susan filled-in for Sailors needed out on the ships, creating and transferring messages between Washington, D.C. and the Naval Supply Depot in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Susan took advantage of the G.I. Bill when the war ended, earning a Degree in Business from Columbia University in New York. The signature at the bottom of Susan’s Diploma reads “Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the University” -- pretty impressive for a girl who didn’t speak English until first grade.
It was at Columbia that Susan met her husband. The lived in New York while he worked for IBM, later moving with their two daughters to Western North Carolina onto five and a half acres and building a horse stable. Unfortunately, Susan’s husband passed away in 1985. She chose to stay on the land for many more years and raise her daughters alone, a testament to her mental toughness and strong work ethic.
Learning about Susan and spending time with her has been an inspiration. Capturing the stories of these veterans has been an unforgettable experience and will hopefully keep their memories alive for generations to come.
For more information about this exclusive compilation of stories from our WWII veterans, or to find out more about Plantation Village and the people that make our community a great place to live, visit us on the web at www.PlantationVillageRC.com. Like us on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/PlantationVillageRC.