I can’t wait for you to hear this interview I did with a real live legend! “Coach” Jimmy has been like a father figure to countless men, women, boys and girls in our community for generations.
After growing up in sweet little Franklin town during the Great Depression, he and 12 other young men from this story book hamlet volunteered to fight in WWII. Jimmy was among the first foot soldiers to reach and rescue prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp in southern Germany.
For 40 years, Jimmy was reluctant to talk about his experiences but he’s doing it now. Thank Goodness there are men and women who are willing to call up the kind of courage it takes to tell hard stories like this.
If it weren’t for brave souls like these, we would be forever bound by history repeating itself.
Jimmy’s an honored, decorated war hero but he’s also humble and gentle and lovable and tender gentleman who has a childlike quality to him. He’s lived through the horrors of war but still says his favorite room in his house is the tree swing in his front yard. 🙂 and he still tears up when he talks about his wife of 60 years, or his mom. And his boyish grin spreads ear to ear whenever he’s asked about his 4 great grandchildren.
You’ll hear a theme throughout the interview about the importance of having a mentor. This was especially true for Jimmy after his father died. And his respect and fondness for his mother reminds us that there’s nothing like the influence of a mom in a son’s life.
We also touch on the importance of processing traumatic events. Even if you’re not a foot soldier on a faraway battlefield, talking about hurtful experiences with others is imperative for the healing process. In recovery rooms, I’ve learned that everyone who has a pulse has something to process. (Do you have a safe place to process your pain with others? Don’t “fly over” it in a jet plane; take the time to sail with a few trustworthy others on a slow ship across to the healing side…)
Jimmy is and has always been, a family man. He remembers names and faces from nearly a century ago with razor sharp accuracy. He tells great stories, and like one of his mentees, Gordon Kennedy who was with us last week, Jimmy is committed to using his God-given platform to speak well of the Name.
The song you’re hearing throughout the episode is called “Tojous Moi” named after the perfume Jimmy kept in full supply for his bride. Gordon Kennedy wrote the music with a mentee of his- Ben Cooper. Later, Gordon, inspired by Jimmy’s ongoing affection for the one love of his life, wrote the lyrics for the song in a matter of minutes. That’s Ben you’re hearing on vocals and piano throughout this episode. (Thanks Guys for letting us use your song!!! :-0)
Today, I’ll challenge you to read one WWII book over Christmas break.
Here are some great ones to get you started:
An American Life- the Jimmy Gentry story – http://amzn.to/2AHaXBl
Unbroken: a WWII story of survival, resilience and redemption – http://amzn.to/2iZA1ZS
The Greatest Generation Speaks by Tom Brokaw – http://amzn.to/2iZKlkC
Also, check out these movies;
“Saving Private Ryan” — an all time classic with Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, directed by Steven Spielberg. Wow. Just wow. http://amzn.to/2idDS8v
“An American Adventure” – This is the documentary I discuss with today’s guest and here is my friendly warning; there’s a scene where our dear Jimmy is walking along some railroad tracks with a younger relative and when they look up, they see the tracks have brought them up to the remains of that concentration camp. Jimmy struggles in this scene to stay standing up; he’s sobbing so hard… That scene will rip your heart out. In the best way. In the most bittersweet, healing way…. EVERYONE needs to see this film. Every American, every Jew, every German, everyone who’s ever felt anything toward anyone about anything needs to see it. http://amzn.to/2AkEkGO
And Love, this December 7th, pause and remember those who fought for our freedom.
Jimmy’s charity of choice is https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org
After listening to this interview, if you feel inclined to help a great group of American veterans, consider going in with your family or small group and making a donation. They say “your support doesn’t simply make a difference; it gives wounded warriors a future they never thought they’d have.”
Some meaningful, beautiful ways for you to live out love.
Till next time,