GOOD NEWS 94-YO WWII Vet Gets Citizenship Papers to Go to D-Day Ceremonies
A great story shared this morning on Happening Now, as a 94-year-old World War II veteran got his proof of citizenship papers just in time to fly to France for the D-Day commemorations. Sherwin Callander was almost forced to stay home in Alabama because he couldn't get a passport.
Callander, who was stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack and stormed the beaches of France on D-Day 70 years ago, was born in Canada in 1920 to an American mother, moving to the U.S. at age three. With help from his granddaughter, Elaine Oakes, a local congressman and social media, he was able get the documents in order.
Callander heard last month about ceremonies for the 70th anniversary of D-Day and said he thought it would be meaningful to attend. He hadn't been back to France since landing on Utah Beach during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 and had cherished memories of buddies lost that day.
However, Callander hit a snag when he went to get a passport. Born in Canada in 1920 to an American mother and having lived in the United States since the age of 3, Callander didn't have any documentation that proved his U.S. citizenship.
He also didn't have enough money to pay for the trip.
Oakes decided to take action. She set up an account two weeks ago on an online fundraising website to tell the story of the man she calls "Papa" and his wish to go to Normandy. She set a goal of $5,000. By Monday, donations from 249 people totaled just over $10,000.
Oakes also helped her grandfather work through a bureaucratic maze to get the necessary papers for his passport, and she credits the office of their congressman, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, with speeding things along. On Friday, Callander learned he had an appointment with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Atlanta to get a certificate of citizenship, which was followed by an appointment at the passport office to get a specially expedited passport.
After getting the citizenship certificate Monday morning, Callander recited the Oath of Allegiance to the United States flanked by two active U.S. Army members who also happened to receive U.S. citizenship that day.