This 20-year-old is on a mission to interview every living WWII veteran before they die
SAN DIEGO (Circa) - What were you doing when you were 20 years old?
20-year-old Rishi Sharma has been traveling the country interviewing World War II veterans to tell their stories before they die since he was in high school.
So far, Sharma has interviewed more than 850 veterans in 45 states.
“They can say that their lives have had a purpose greater than themselves. Lot’s of people are born, they live and they die without having an impact on the world,” Sharma said. “But every single World War II veteran have given millions of people a chance at life. Because of the hell they went through at 18-19 years old.”
Sharma’s goal is to preserve their stories for future generations through his nonprofit, Heroes of the Second World War.
And he also posts his videos on his YouTube channel.
Sharma said he’s not going to stop until he interviews every single World War II combat veteran.
“That’s a mission I’ve taken on for myself and I’m going to stick to it. And after that, I don’t know,” Sharma said.
He will be busy for a while.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are around 558,000 World War II veterans that were still alive in 2017.
The youngest are in their late 80s and some are over a 100 years old. An average of 362 die each day, according to the VA.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is just how amazing these World War II combat veterans are and how little time we have to document them,” Sharma said.
Sharma said that self-sacrifice is a common theme he experiences when he interviews them.
“During the war, they would volunteer for dangerous hazardous duties, so that other people wouldn’t have too. I’ve met plenty of veterans that were wounded trying to help other people,” Sharma said. “Whether it would be to try and help another wounded soldier or try and stop enemy advancement.”
Sharma said that interviewing World War II veterans is a full-time job for him.
He raises money through nonprofit and a GoFundMe account that has raised over $185,000.
If you know of any World War II combat veterans who Sharma could interview, you can reach out to him through this website: Heroes of the Second World War.org