When 20-year-old Rishi Sharma of Redondo Beach, California was in high school, he admits that he skipped countless days of school to drive around to senior centers and private homes.
In his defense, he ditched school in the pursuit of cementing legacies in history forever—something you don’t see from truant teens all that often.
Sharma explained that he was a huge fan of superheroes growing up, and that interest parlayed into his current passion as he got older; he wants to visit as many World War II combat veterans as he possibly can and collect all of their stories.
He’s driven countless miles over the years to speak with the men who fought in the world’s ugliest modern war, spending hours at a time with the aging heroes in what has become his daily routine.
It may seem strange that he spends so much time with the vets, but Sharma explains that he’s racing against the clock. With an estimated 400 World War II veterans dying every day, the thousands that marched, sailed, and flew into battle over half a century ago are taking our nation’s history to the grave with them.
His reasoning is incredibly noble, and it explains his passion remarkably well.
“It’s amazing how much history and knowledge is encased in each one of these individuals and how much is lost when one of them dies,” he revealed, justifying the fact that he’s now made it his day-to-day operation to spend as much time with the veterans as he possibly can.
Although he himself doesn’t come from a World War II military family—Sharma’s parents emigrated from India to the United States—he’s doing the nation an incredible service with what he’s doing. So far, he’s gotten oral histories from 850 vets in 40 states and counting, and that doesn’t include the veterans he calls up just to thank.
“It means a great deal to me that you were willing to endure all that so that I could be here today,” he told one of them.
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