This 92-Year Old Pacific War Veteran Has A Powerful Message For The Young People Of America

World War II veteran Jerry Yellin sits atop the back of a convertible car while serving as an honorary marshal for the 2013 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2013. Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

Retired Army Air Corps Capt. Jerry Yellin is a man on a mission, and that mission is to speak to young people across America about World War II and the futility of war. His life’s motto is, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and he firmly believes that the young people of today do not appreciate the reality of war and what it was like to fight in one.

Yellin was an Army pilot during WWII with 19 missions over Japan to his credit, but now he is a worried man. In an interview with 12News, he said, “It’s 2016. I’m 92 years old. I’m reading the same headlines in the newspaper about race, religion, terrorism and killing people for (beliefs) that I read when I was 12 years old in 1936. It’s no different.”

He fears that young people do not understand how the fuelling of hatred over differences plays into the hands of warmongers, “We’re an angry nation,” said Yellin. “We’re a divided nation: Culturally, monetarily, racially and religious-wise we’re divided.”

Yellin has a simple message that he is trying to get across to the leaders of tomorrow. No matter how naive he may sound, he simply wants people to draw closer together, “We all need three meals a day,” he said. “We all need a bed to lie down on. We all need something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to for happiness.”

This aging pilot and humanitarian has already spoken to the students at the University of Washington, and he has several other speaking engagements set up. This weekend he will be at the Sioux Airshow, in the Sheehan Mack Sales & Equipment’s tent where he will be very happy to chat to you.

Hopefully, many young people will heed the important message that this veteran carries. All nations need someone to unite them instead of serving up reasons to divide the population against one another.   Yellin said, “I just want (people) to know what the 16 million (veterans) did in World War II and why we did it. There were 16 million of us, now there’s maybe 300,000 of us. Most of us can’t walk and talk, but I can, so I’m doing it.”

“Telling them the story of World War II — why we fought, and why we can’t fight any more wars.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE