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Sometimes, a wall unites
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Marcy Kaptur is not a name of immediate national recall. It belongs to a lady who used to slug cocktails in the living room of Remie Remlinger in Toledo, Ohio.

I was invited more than once to pound bourbon and vodka with these women gathered to argue issues and define their take on national and local politics.

I remember doing a lot of listening. Holy Toledo! That handle came by way of the city bragging about an abundant number of churches. Jamie Farr, who stills plays Klinger in M*A*S*H re-runs, comes from there.

He never showed up at Remie’s for a hot political afternoon. Danny Thomas could have been invited as he always bragged on Toledo.

I knew and loved Remie for many years as my aunt and my buddy. She was quite the character into her late 80’s driving a red convertible and communicating on her computer.

She was very active in Democratic politics and hung out with the assistant mayor, another strong lady. She had no kids so I was her big kid and catching sun and slugging hooch on hot Toledo afternoons was a way of mothering for her.

Marcy moved in and out of political groups and looked out for me when the lady mayor, Ms. Donna, came a courtin’. The mayor liked me, well, maybe too much.

I looked out for Marcy and hunted good Polish guys she could meet. We had a healthy respect for each other as folks who love to nurture ideas. I wrote her recently after her big dream came to pass.

That started when U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio’s 9th District was making a speech to veterans in 1988. One gent stood up and asked why there was no Memorial for World War II veterans. She said she did not know and would start asking questions.

Remie’s Sunday crowd was then full of all kinds of people offering all kinds of solutions. For the next 14 years, she fought for answers in the U.S. House, meeting with design groups, environmentalists, lobbyists, Republican supporters, and anyone who would listen.

All along, she kept getting re-elected and still serves now.

It was Marcy that got that WW II Memorial built. It took all her Polish pride and energy to do it. It was not a Democrat/Republican thing. It was answering a call to build something that would last forever. And, an act of completion for the voting vet who asked her to get involved.

He planned for years to attend the opening ceremonies. He died just 4 months before it was dedicated. His family came to Washington, D.C. in May and completed his dream. We lose more than 1,000 WW II Vets daily. Their numbers have dwindled from 16 million to 4 million.

One of the survivors is my Pop, Bob “Sully” Sullivan. Like others, the WW2 Wall has re- kindled strength and pride in him.

He flew 50 missions as a Wing Navigator in a B-17 and successfully guided his flight to whack the Nazi oil fields in Rumania.

Around Memorial Day, he walked slowly on his cane to a Coral Springs, Florida park with his Distinguished Flying Cross medal pinned to his chest. He told vets gathered there that his war era journal is now part of Savannah’s Mighty 8th Museum and the 15th Air Force library in California. He wrote every day of his 9 months in Italy about all his missions and his daily life.

It was a gift for Gertie, my mother. The book was taken from him when he

returned to America in 1944 after his tour. Security.

It just somehow came back to him 7 years later... in the mail.

He was 24 years old. He says he was far from being a hero. For him it was surviving each day and each bombing mission.

Tybee folks are already reading his hand-written account.

Marcy never met him yet sure heard about him from Aunt Remie. Marcy made Pop’s day shine better than the autographed book sent him from Tom Brokaw about our Greatest Generation.

What she did for “Sully” was help him cross that street without fear to the park with my brother Paul holding him up. His tears were quick. Pictures were taken with other survivors. They listened to each other as the stories rolled out quickly.

The Wall. Imagine the stories now living there. Why it took 14 years to happen says a lot about our collective politics and not enough about our hearts.

It will last longer than that other Wall in Berlin.

And, perhaps our Wall will do more to unite us in this noisy and divisive election season.

For sure, many journals are being written right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. w

Michael Sullivan is news director for WJCL and WTGS. To comment on this article, e-mail us at