WWII veteran Nathan Firestone joined Immortal Regiment of Chicago

  • On May 5, 2019 Firestone joined the World War II Veterans Remembrance Walk organized by Immortal Regiment of Chicago. Courtesy of Immortal Regiment of Chicago

    On May 5, 2019 Firestone joined the World War II Veterans Remembrance Walk organized by Immortal Regiment of Chicago. Courtesy of Immortal Regiment of Chicago

 
Natalia Dagenhart
Updated 5/8/2019 8:14 AM

The Allied victory in World War II was the result of the efforts of people of different nationalities who stood together against fascists. Russians and Americans both fought against the Germans in World War II. Fascism brought devastation and grief to countries and nations all over the world. World War II fatality statistics vary, with estimates of total deaths ranging from 70 to 85 million people. Concentration camps, burned villages… Humanity should never let fascists occupy our cities and countries again. These horrible deeds must never be repeated.

American World War II veteran Nathan Firestone, who recently turned 100 years old, understands that. He nearly died during that horrible war, but God gave him a chance to survive, live a long and productive life, and share with us his memories, experience, and bravery. On May 5, 2019 Firestone joined the World War II Veterans Remembrance Walk organized by Immortal Regiment of Chicago. He supported this great event and walked together with people of different nationalities. Russians, Americans, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews, Greeks, Moldavians, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Serbians, Uzbeks, Georgians and many others marched together to honor World War II veterans.

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Before the walk, which took place next to Cutting Hall in Palatine, Firestone shared memories about his experience during World War II. After flying twenty seven successful missions over Europe as an officer and navigator of a bomber squadron, Firestone and a couple of other servicemen had to face unexpected difficulties where they ended up becoming German prisoners of war. Many years later, Nathan Firestone wrote a book called "Extra Joker," which is a nonfiction account of his war experiences. It is written under the pseudonym Nicky U. Fox.

"When the plane got shot down and I parachuted and l landed in a tree, I had to climb down," said Firestone. "I left the parachute in the tree and then I walked in the Alps for nine days before I got captured. And that was in the month of October, when it was real cold in the Alps too. We stopped in a farmhouse; they gave us some food, and then they sent for a local policeman. And the local policeman came and arrested us. And then we were prisoners of war. I was in Stalag Luft III [prisoners of war camp] when they moved us from the north part of Germany to the South part, and we stayed at another camp for a couple of months. And then, when they moved us out of that camp two others and I left the group and walked out by ourselves."

Firestone was rescued by American soldiers and returned home in 1945. After the war, he was able to start his life all over again, built a family, found a job, but the wounds of that horrible war -- both physical and psychological -- stayed with him forever. For veterans, it is very important to share their memories and their pain with younger generations. As it is important for all of us to honor those soldiers who never returned back home.

This year, Immortal Regiment marched in the Chicago suburbs for the fourth time. The walk gathered more than five hundred people. The descendants of veterans and victims of World War II marched together carrying portraits of their family members who participated in that horrible war. The organizers printed out portraits of veterans who participated in the war and were relatives of people who marched. They made banners with those portraits in a special format, and everyone marched together honoring World War II veterans. This way, the march became particularly deep and touching for each individual participant because he was honoring not just veterans in general, but his own relatives, whom he loves and whom he remembers. Dead and alive marched together, connecting past and future and representing their mutual strength and adamant spirit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Many World War II veterans of different nationalities joined this meaningful walk. Their faces looked serious and happy at the same time. Happy that that horrible war is over, but sad from all the pain and scars left in their souls and hearts. Those of them, who were not able to walk, were sitting on the bleachers and watched the march. Numerous volunteers participated in the event. Without their help, the event wouldn't have happened.

People from different states came to Palatine to join Immortal Regiment of Chicago. Missouri, Alabama, Wisconsin, New York -- these are just a few names of the states whose residents traveled to Illinois to march together in honor of World War II veterans. Immortal Regiment is a global action that gathers people of different nationalities, races, backgrounds and places of origin with one main purpose -- to unite those whose parents, grandparents and great grandparents fought in World War II and together honor the memory of those fearless veterans.

The organizers of the event -- Anna Troshina, Alena Toropov, and Natalia Dagenhart -- are very grateful to Tatiana Blinova and Maria Timofeeva, the representatives of STARS Insurance, the company that supported this event. Besides that, without the help of Palatine Park District and particularly the help of Jeff Spencer Greene, the representative of the district's Community Center/Administrative Office, this event wouldn't have been possible. Greene has been serving as the Theatre Coordinator for Palatine Park District since 2001. He manages all aspects of Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center and Fred P. Hall Amphitheater.

After the march, the organizers invited everyone to spectacular Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center to watch a concert dedicated to the Allied victory over fascism. A great number of talented people took part in preparing this event and performing in the concert. World War II music, songs, verses and dances made this event touching and unforgettable. People had tears in their eyes, because time doesn't erase the pain caused by that war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It is our duty to honor World War II veterans, to remember their act of bravery, and to deliver this memory to our children and grandchildren. This is the only way to live and to build a peaceful future. Remember your veterans and that horrible war in order to avoid new wars on our beautiful planet.

To watch the entire interview with Nathan Firestone, please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2wcvudMnYw&feature=youtu.be

For more information about Immortal Regiment of Chicago, please go to: https://www.facebook.com/ImmortalRegimentChicago

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