Discovery of WWII diary revives a Sarasota widow’s trauma
September 6, 2019
Lorraine Glixon recently discovered her late husband’s World War II diary. Harry Glixon was a POW who was part of a historic prisoner exchange with Nazi Germany in 1944.
SARASOTA — Struggling through Parkinson’s disease, dementia and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, Harry Glixon spent the last decade of his life racing the undertaker, pecking away at the keyboards with the two-fingered intensity that characterized his typing skills.
His widow, Lorraine, describes him as “obsessed” as the old warrior demanded more and more of her time to edit the manuscript he would call “My Story.” Over the years, she would sometimes hear him coming to terms with what he’d done and seen, raising his voice in his study, “I can’t do this! I can’t do this!” And Lorraine discovered she couldn’t do it, either.
After Lorraine gave up, Harry relied on three outside editors/writers to advance his memoir to an abrupt ending in 1962. That’s how far he’d gotten when, in 2006, 11 years into “My Story,” Harry took a spill in his motorized wheelchair and never recovered. He died a year later, at age 86.
The unfinished work that Harry Glixon left behind was so raw — and in so many ways, unflattering — that he requested in the preface that “the contents of my book be kept from the children until at least their 25th birthday.”
He had hoped, according to that preface, that his accounting would “demonstrate that I was a good person and not selfish.” But he also feared his journey through the past would “regenerate old demons and impact and diminish my current happiness.” And that, according to Lorraine, is exactly what happened.
Of the unfinished memoir’s 304 pages, roughly 80 are devoted to World War II, during which Harry Glixon earned two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with V for Valor and a recommendation for the Distinguished Service Cross. He also made history in such unprecedented fashion, it played on newsreels that cheered audiences in both the U.S. and Germany.
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