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LuminUS: Stories About Us
Rating: NR

Act of Duty

More than a dozen northeast Ohio men and women — veterans of World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War—share their first-hand experience of battle and how it shaped their lives in PBS Western Reserve’s ACT OF DUTY.

CNN’s Martin Savidge (a one-time Cleveland news reporter) provides the voice-over for this enlightening look into the lives of U.S. veterans. Against a backdrop of footage featuring scenes of war, airplanes, naval vessels, veterans’ cemeteries and newspaper headlines, those who served explain their roles both during and after war.

“Part of why we’re doing this is so that many of us who don’t know the ravages of war firsthand can better understand our veterans,” explained Duilio Mariola, producer/director for PBS Western Reserve. “We’re around these people every day, yet we know so little about them, what they think and what they went through. The program will give all of us more insight.”

Most veterans express strong emotions about their service. “You have to love freedom with your life … I did put my life on the line for my freedom, and I appreciate every day for just being able to draw a breath of air,” said Thomas Papp, an Akron resident who served in Vietnam. “You can’t understand the horror of war. When that bullet hits your bone, it hurts. It hurts terrible, and it leaves scars. That bullet went right through my soul.”

The veterans speak freely about how they viewed their role in the war and later, how they viewed their role when they returned home. Savidge also tells viewers how Veterans Day was created, why it is celebrated on Nov. 11 and why it is important to honor this national holiday.

Why a local special?

PBS Western Reserve decided to produce ACT OF DUTY as a response to public interest and the needs of local educators. “Leading up to Veterans Day last year, the station received several requests from teachers regarding special programs about the holiday. We didn’t have anything scheduled at that time, and that’s how the idea for ACT OF DUTY was derived,” Mariola said.

“ACT OF DUTY is more than talking heads,” Mariola continued. “It’s about real people — people we all interact with on a daily basis — who share their views on the wars in which they served. How they felt, what they thought. It really allows us to know and understand them, and this will benefit all viewers, not just students.”

The men and women who served in war are changed by their experiences. “When I came out of the Army, I had been challenged,” said Dr. Russ Baldwin of Euclid, who is a World War II veteran. “It was interesting, life threatening, character building, faith confirming and enhancing for me. I’m a proud veteran ... I just am.”

Retired U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf also participates in ACT OF DUTY, sharing his viewpoint as he commanded Operation Desert Storm during the Persian Gulf War and what it means to be a veteran in the United States.

ACT OF DUTY is a production of PBS Western Reserve. Executive Producer: Don Freeman. Producer/director: Duilio Mariola. Writer: Janis Worley.


A PBS Western Reserve production, 2000.


Local veterans who participate in ACT OF DUTY

World War II
Russ Baldwin, Euclid
Al Canfora, Barberton
Hardy Drane, Cleveland Heights
Albert Estergall, Streetsboro 
Richard Francies, Cleveland Heights
Eugene Guyton, Cleveland Heights
Ken Hoffman, Chesterland
Norman Lubinsky, Highland Heights
James Matthews, Akron
Meredith Matthews, Akron
Mike Nero, Solon
Josephine Rich, Shaker Heights
Fred Sizer, Willoughby
Ed Stoch, Euclid
Bill Tompko, Euclid
Sol Weiss, Lyndhurst

Harley Coon, Beavercreek
Arthur Dickard, Bedford
Albert Estergall, Streetsboro

Garry Augustine, Cleveland
Thomas Papp, Akron
Mary Powell, Shaker Heights
Kenneth Whitley, Mayfield Heights

Educational Resources

Subject Area: Social Studies

Grade Level: Middle and High School

Download the ACT OF DUTY Teacher Guide