Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In fact, if I hadn’t lived the true story I’m about to tell you I’d find it hard to believe.
In the last thirteen years since I started interviewing veterans for my World War II novels, most have passed away. Some of them—realizing their days on earth were coming to an end—returned to Europe one last time with their family members to walk along paths they’ve never forgotten. Those trips inspired my novel, Remembering You.
One theme of Remembering You is reconciliation. As my veteran friends grew older–and knew their time on earth was coming to and end–they often turned their minds to important people in their past. They often thought about the war and wondered about the prisoners they’d helped to liberate.
Below are photos of my friend, LeRoy “Pete” Petersohn. (Wasn’t he a handsome soldier?!) Pete was a medic in WWII. He passed away a few years ago, but before then God gave him a special gift. And God gave me a special gift by allowing me to be part of the gift-giving process.
The gift all started when a woman named Hana heard of my book From Dust and Ashes, and she knew I’d interviewed some of the veterans from the 11th Armored Division. In her email, Hana asked if I’d interviewed any medics. Then she told me an amazing story. Hana was a Holocaust survivor.
Hana was just three weeks old when the Americans arrived, and she was very ill. Because of the filthy conditions of the concentration camp she got a skin infection and sores covered her body. No one expected her to live. Yet one of the medics saw the small baby and knew he had to do something.Hana was born on a cart just outside of Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria. Her mother had survived being a prisoner of another camp and was transported to Mauthausen at the end of the war.
Even though it took most of the day, this medic lanced and cleaned all Hana’s sores, saving her life. Over the years she’d wanted to find the medic, but didn’t know where to start. Then Hana heard about my novel and she contacted me.
I was amazed by Hana’s story and told her I knew one medic—maybe he remembered who that man was? I gave Hana the contact information for Pete, and I soon heard amazing news. My friend LeRoy “Pete” Petersohn was the medic who’d saved Hana’s life during World War II! The two were soon reunited!
After all these years Hana was able to look into the eyes of the man who saved her and thank him. After all these years Pete was able to meet the woman he saved. Pete had never stopped thinking about her. He’d never stopped wondering if that baby had survived–if he’d made a difference.
“Baby!” Pete called out when he met Hana.
I was busy with life when God pointed me to an amazing story, and to even more amazing men. I’m so thankful I took time to listen and care. I’m so thankful I took time to write their stories. I’m so thankful I allowed these men to share what … and who … they remembered most.
Both From Dust and Ashes and Remembering You are works of fiction, but the experiences of the men are true. The emotions are true. The reunions are true.
Mostly I’m thankful for the unexpected gifts God gives … in unexpected ways.
Need more inspirational biblical advice? SCH joyfully recommends Self-Examination For True Change
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of one, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A USA Today bestselling author, Tricia has published thirty-three books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com.
Click here to learn more about the gifted author Tricia Goyer