They will tell you that they didn’t serve in the military. But no one should say that Evonne and Bill Williams, The World-Herald’s 2013 Midlanders of the Year, aren’t doing a real service for their fellow citizens.
The two Omahans and their Patriotic Productions initiative do important work in honoring America’s servicemen and -women.
Exhibits they created have put faces with the names of the U.S. military dead from Afghanistan and Iraq. These “Remembering Our Fallen” displays, which include photos and biographies of those killed in the two wars, are touring in 11 states. The couple hopes to create such exhibits for every state.
The Honor Flights they organized with $1.6 million in donations have made sure that 1,635 World War II and Korean War veterans from Nebraska and western Iowa would get to see the Washington, D.C., memorials that are a tribute to their service. Another flight for Korea vets is scheduled for this spring.
“I didn’t serve,’’ Bill said. “We didn’t serve. But we try to do what we can to help those who served in World War II and Korea — and to honor the fallen.’’
It’s hard to imagine that the Texas child who wrote “I miss you Daddy” on a note attached to his Remembering Our Fallen photo wouldn’t think the Williams are serving. Nor would the elderly gent who got a chance to gaze at Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s D-Day quote carved in granite at the World War II Memorial.
The Williams say they don’t want the sacrifices of the nation’s military men and women and its veterans to go unappreciated or to be forgotten.
For their work toward accomplishing both of those goals, Evonne and Bill Williams are outstanding choices for Midlanders of the Year.