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Thomas Sanders & Veronica Kavass: The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II

As an era of service began to disappear from living memory, a young photographer and oral historian set out to ensure it would never be forgotten.

Thomas Sanders began photographing World War II veterans while he was a college student, traveling to senior living centers across the country. Many posed with cherished mementos from their service: framed photographs and weathered white sailor caps, polished bronze medals and well-worn gas masks. Veronica Kavass then followed in his footsteps to interview the veterans – though even a few months had taken a marked toll on the number still alive and able to give their recollections.

The stories of The Last Good War are full of reflections on duty, courage, fear, pride, sacrifice, and loss. Louis Zamperini competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and swiped a flag from the Reichstag, and later spent most of the war as a POW in Japan – where he had been scheduled to run in the 1940 Olympics. Edna Davis of the WASPs and Ted Lumpkin of the Tuskegee Airmen had to fight the doubts of their fellow Americans before they could fly military aircraft. And for many veterans, telling their own stories mattered much less than the stories of friends who never returned.

Thomas Sanders earned a BFA in photography from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His work has been featured in the 2007 PDN Photo Annual and a wide variety of other publications. Veronica Kavass holds a Masters in Curation and Criticism from Chelsea College of Art in London, and has trained as an oral historian through her work with StoryCorps.