homepage logo

Mayor, Barron, WWII vet earn awards for documentary movie

By Staff | Aug 13, 2013

It wasn’t exactly winning the Oscar, but it might as well have been given the story they helped tell.

Mayor John Sullivan and the city’s Information Director Connie Barron were presented with awards for their work on the documentary film “The True Story of an American WWII Hero: Harry Beeman.”

The awards were presented during the regular city council meeting on Monday at City Hall. But the biggest applause came when a third person, Beeman himself, also received an award, setting off a standing ovation in the council chambers.

The movie, which can be seen on YouTube, took more than 300 hours and about a year to complete, and came about as the brainchild of Sullivan.

Beeman had met Sullivan while speaking at the reopening of the replica Iwo Jima statue, which was remodeled. Beeman fought at Iwo Jima.

“I was getting the crowd warmed up. I introduced the mayor, took the paper I had in my hand and stuck it in his shirt pocket,” Beeman said.

The next day, after reading that piece of paper Beeman had, which listed all the battles in which he had taken part, the mayor called him and asked about his service.

Sullivan introduced Beeman to Barron.

“The mayor and I were talking and he mentioned that Harry Beeman had a good story to tell about his World War II service,” Barron said. “He said I should talk with him.”

Barron spoke with Jozef Lenders at 1Pro Media about the idea of making a documentary, who immediately jumped on it.

Beeman soon came to the 1Pro Media studios and began telling his story on tape, getting a good three to four hours of material before editing it into a story.

“You could tell by talking to him that his service was perhaps the most important part of his life,” Barron said. “When we put it together, we both knew it was a great story.”

The award came for best documentary, an award of distinction, with Barron earning a producers credit for her work in fact-checking news reels, with Sullivan given credit for the concept out of thousands of submissions.

“Lenders said he wanted to do it for the achievement because he knew he could win a lot of awards. And that’s exactly what he did,” Beeman said. “Everyplace he’s put it he’s won top honors.”

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival premiered the film, and it was presented by former Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga.

The award meant a lot to Sullivan, a big supporter of war veterans and close friend of Beeman, who had heard all the tales he told about his war years.

“I thought it would make a great story, especially since he was a resident of Cape Coral,” Sullivan said. “He served our country well. He put himself in harm’s way and did a fantastic job.”

Sullivan deflected credit for the award to the man who the movie was about.

“He’s the real hero here, not me,” Sullivan said. “It was nice to know I could do something good for somebody who deserved the proper recognition for how he served his country.”

Beeman wouldn’t call himself a hero, saying that it was an honor to serve his country, an honor he doesn’t regret for a minute.

“People nowadays will see you wearing a shirt that says World War II and ask if I served, and they shake my hand and thank me for the service,” Beeman said. “I thank God every day I was the right age to fight for my flag, because the pleasure was mine.”