My legacy as a songwriter came from my father.
He’d enlisted in the USAF on his 18th birthday, trained as a radioman and gunner
and started flying missions out of England. When his B17 was shot down over
Germany, he became a POW for the last 14 months of WWII. In the Stalag, he began
writing songs with a fellow prisoner. Towards the end of the war, after an 86-day forced march, as he and the other emaciated survivors were being loaded onto a cattle car, he heard the sound of American planes overhead. Using what he called “the trusty stub of my Red Cross pencil”, he managed to scrawl some words on the car’s wooden slats.
I’d heard Dad sing that song during my childhood, but it wasn’t until I was helping to create Lainie Nelson’s WW II revue, that Dad told me the story of how he’d written that song. So when we presented Lainie’s show at Carnegie Hall for Columbia Artists’ bookers– some 50+ years after he’d written that song – Dad made his songwriting debut. I wore his medals onstage, introduced him to the audience, and watched my dad receive round after round of applause – for his song and for his heroism. I’m proud to honor him on this Memorial Day.
Ladies and Gentlemen – my dad, Philip Brourman.