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Detroit: Our Greatest Generation

Remember that "Survivor" television show? There was this chef during the second season who came from Michigan. He made us proud then.

Now, we're just about bursting at the seams. Keith Famie, who still lives in Novi, is an Emmy-winning film producer. His latest effort is "Detroit: Our Greatest Generation," a prime-time, hour long, commercial-free documentary produced by the seven-time Emmy award winning production company Visionalist Entertainment Productions.

Locally, WDIV (Channel 4 on most televisions) will show the film at 2 p.m. Dec. 25, with no commercials.

Here is a little bit about the film from Famie's POV.

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By Keith Famie
Producer / Director

This blog and a film I recently completed have something in common. Time is trying to shed light on Detroit and the examples it can teach the nation. My documentary attempts to do the same by telling the stories of how Detroit impacted World War II, the generation that fought it and how that generation also impacted Detroit and America.

As the director and producer of "Detroit: Our Greatest Generation", I found the journey of making this documentary to be one of the most rewarding productions I have been involved in to date. It was a privilege to hear and share the stories of our local World War II veterans both during and after the war, on the home front and on the battlefront.

On a personal level, my father, a bombardier on a B-17 during the war, died seven years ago, and I've regretted never focusing a camera lens on his story. Every time I sat down with one of our WWII veterans, I always felt I was sitting with my dad in a small way. For that, I will be forever grateful for the time I spent with Our Greatest Generation here in Detroit and very proud of what our city of Detroit was responsible for as the Arsenal of Democracy.

The overall theme that resonated throughout our veterans' accounts was how patriotic all of America became when the war broke out. Entire neighborhoods of young men would join the military, many times lying about their age to serve their country. In many cases, only one or two of these young men would return to their communities.

The stories these humble elders shared of courage, fear and sacrifices clearly helps reinforce why Tom Brokaw referred to them in his book as Our Greatest Generation. I think back to the recounts of pilot Sonny Eliot, a legendary broadcaster still, in his 90s, on Detroit's WWJ 950 Newsradio. His B-24 was going down in flames after being shot by a Nazi fighter pilot and he jumped out only after his crew jumped first. Sonny then became a prisoner of war for 18 months, but never wavered in his support of our country. Or how front line nurse Mildred MacGregor had a young soldier die in her arms only to find out he was from the same city, Ann Arbor, as she was. Fate found him in her arms, and she felt it was her responsibility to then deliver the news to his family personally when she returned home.

I think what I hope viewers walk away with is simple. Every time they see an elder in his or her 80s or 90s on the street or in a store, they take the time to walk up to them and just say thank you.

As Tom Brokaw says in our film "had it not been for the fine people of Detroit, the war might not have been won." That is a lot for all of us, as Michiganders and Americans, to be proud of.

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