Our new series of War Stories episodes is underway!
Recently, we asked the host of War Stories, retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North to talk with us about the series and what Americans can learn from the heroism displayed every Sunday night at 8 p.m and 1 a.m. ET.
Foxnews.com: As we inch closer to a possible war with Iraq, what can Americans learn from the men and women profiled in the War Stories episodes?
Col. North: War Stories takes me all over the world to interview those who have fought in past conflicts and those who serve today. There are remarkable parallels: Now as then they are citizen soldiers. They are bright, remarkably well trained, dedicated to one another, committed to the cause of freedom and willing to go into harm's way if that's what our country requires. And now -- as then -- they are the best in the world.
Unlike our adversaries in the past or today, our military is comprised of young people who grew up in freedom. None of them that I have met, then or now, glorify war -- but they do want to have their sacrifices recognized.
And having served for 22 years myself, there is one similarity that's driven home to me every time I review the footage from some battle in the past -- and every time I talk to one of those serving today: Those who fight our nation's battles are young. In peacetime we would call them boys and girls. In times of war we call them soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
Foxnews.com: Just recently we aired The Battle of Britain. What's special about that new show?
North: The Battle of Britain is about the remarkable people of the British Isles -- fighting alone against Hitler before the U.S. entered the war.
Young people today -- looking at the U.S. And Britain standing up to Saddam Hussein -- wonder about the "special relationship" that we have with the U.K. There is more to it than just a common language -- and it's evident in this episode of War Stories. Winston Churchill said of the Royal Air Force heroes we have on this show: "never was so much owed by so many to so few." He was right.
Foxnews.com: What's your favorite show in the news series? Why?
North: I can't pick a favorite. Whether I'm with those who fought in the skies over Europe, at Pearl Harbor, in the jungles of Burma, the mountains of Europe, on Guadalcanal or the desert in North Africa, the freezing cold of "The Bulge" or the troops in and on the way to Afghanistan or Iraq, it's clear to me that I've got the best job in television. All I do is hang around with heroes. Some of ‘em are older than I am. Some are younger -- but they are all people who have dared to do difficult and dangerous things when their country called. They all put themselves at risk, were separated for months or years from family and loved ones and are a great inspiration to me – and, I think, to our audience. At the end of one of these episodes of War Stories you can't help but feel better about who we are as a people.
Foxnews.com: What have you learned from doing this series?
North: We're told by the media critics that the American audience likes "reality TV.” Well this is "reality television" -- with live ordnance! And the people we interview are real "survivors."
But aside from the excitement that is inherent in any depiction of combat and courage, there is an incredible thirst for these stories in the American public. The response we have received to these documentaries has been overwhelming. As a person who spent more than two decades in uniform, it has been especially gratifying.
Foxnews.com: None of the producers for War Stories has a military background... is that a good thing or a bad thing?
North: I think it helps. First, they are professional journalists and broadcasters. They all are very careful in their research and have a good "eye" for how something will look on the show. Second, at almost as important: I'm a military man. I tend to think, write and speak in military jargon -- a "language" that most people don't really understand. Our War Stories team will catch something I, or one of those we're interviewing, have said that might not be comprehended by our civilian audience and ensure that we put it in terms that everyone understands.
Foxnews.com: How do you prepare for each episode of War Stories?
North: We get a lot of great ideas about particular battles or events from our viewers. But FOX News requires that we have real footage -- either videotape or combat "mo-pic" film -- and real eyewitnesses to the events -- people who are actual participants. That means our production team will spend weeks -- sometimes months -- trying to chase down some footage that's relevant to the story. We spend hours interviewing the participants -- and sometimes traveling around the world to find them. We also look for appropriate venues for every episode so that our viewers have a sense for the history we're documenting. Finally, we spend countless more hours editing what we have to make it all fit in a one-hour show. It's not unusual to have 10 or more hours of tape in an episode... so that's quite a challenge.
Foxnews.com: What's the one thing you would like the FOX News Channel audience to know about these shows?
North: For two centuries the people of the United States have dispatched their sons and daughters to far away places to defend the liberties we hold dear and to offer others the hope of freedom. We have never fought for gold or colonial conquest but for the ideals in our own Declaration of Independence and Constitution. No other nation on earth can make such a claim. These are the people we honor in these documentaries. Fifty years from now, these stories will still be relevant. Each episode is a chronicle of courage. They are all part of an extraordinary legacy and help those who see them understand who we Americans really are.
Please join us for War Stories every Sunday evening at 8 p.m. and 1 a.m .ET on the FOX News Channel.