WEST LAKE HILLS, TX (KXAN) — Veterans feel a renewed sense of dignity and pride thanks to a gallery at their assisted living facility. “American Heroes: Portraits of Service” features photographs of veterans at Belmont Village Senior Living in West Lake Hills.
Photographer Tom Sanders travels around the country photographing veterans. His portraits were published in a coffeetable book in “The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of WWII.” Now many of his works hang on the walls of Belmont Senior Living facilities. Sanders returned to West Lake Hills about a month after photographing several veterans for their gallery. He likes to be there to present the portraits to veterans. The pieces hang along a wall on the third floor at Belmont Village.
“I think it’s really important to give these veterans the opportunity to tell their story before moving on,” said Sanders. He doesn’t retouch their wrinkles and asks them to think about their military experience while he photographs them. Many of the veterans hold war momentos and the backgrounds feature superimposed imagery.
“They want to see themselves as young which is really interesting to me because even at 90 years old, they still want to feel youthful,” said Sanders. That’s the case with WWII Army veteran Bob Northington, 90. He was just 17 when his parents gave their consent and allowed him to enlist. He served in Korea from 1945 to 1947.
When asked if he was scared to leave west Texas to serve on the other side of the world, he shrugged. “Too young and dumb to be scared. I didn’t know any better. It was exciting.” After the war, Northington became a rancher. He has three children and 11 grandchildren.
The gallery also features Don Krummenacher, 92. He arrived in Japan in 1945 just as the war ended. Still, he remained there for a year. Sanders photographed Krummenacher in the same military jacket he wore more than 70 years ago. “I’m floored. I really am,” Krummenacher said of his portrait.
The latest addition to the gallery is Allan Rosenberg. He was an Army psychiatrist from about 1944 to 1948. He also happens to be KXAN Meteorologist David Yeomans’ grandfather. His family tells us Rosenberg was stationed in Battle Creek, Michigan and Pasadena, California. He was due to ship out to Germany but the war ended and his plans were cancelled.
Belmont Village hosted a ceremony on January 24 to present the portraits to the veterans. They get one copy for themselves and another hangs on the wall among fellow servicemembers; a tribute to their service and sacrifice.