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Photo by Rachel S. O'Hara
Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012 5 years ago

Neighbors: Nell Rude

by: Rachel S. OHara Staff Photographer

Three years ago Nell Rude was watching television, when a special announcement interrupted her program. Her screen filled with people running around in the street protesting and burning the American flag.

“I was shocked,” Rude remembers. “I thought, ‘I am a good American,’ and I wanted to show them my side ...”

Over the years, Rude has acquired photographs, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia of American heroes. Rude began rooting through old boxes and found yellowed newspaper pages she had collected when she lived in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Some of the headlines read, “ROOSEVELT DEAD,” “GREAT WAR ENDS,” “MARTIN LUTHER KING SLAIN,” “Men walk on moon.”

“Anything that had to do with our country, I wanted to read and save,” Rude says.

Now, the Sarasota resident has compiled her old clippings and memorabilia into an exhibit called “Tribute to American Heroes,” which she will unveil at Plymouth Harbor, 700 Ringling Blvd.

As she made her way through the boxes full of newsworthy events, she had to make decisions on what events and people were most important to her and had made the most impact on America history.

One man she did not want to leave out was President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Rude grew up in Washington, D.C., with her mother, and when she turned 8, she received a very special birthday card in the mail.

“He sent me a happy birthday letter, because we both have the same birthday,” Rude says.

In total, Rude framed 35 pieces she feels give a good representation of America and its heroes. Some of the pieces include a map of the battle grounds from the Confederate war, a portrait of President Lincoln, newspaper articles about World War II, Vietnam, Rosa Parks, both the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the moon landing and more.

Rude thinks of the exhibit as a history lesson and also a way to thank the veterans who have fought for America over the years.

“I feel our veterans don’t get the honor that they should get,” she says. “A lot of people seem to forget the veterans.”

Although Rude never served, she has been married for almost 64 years to Bernie, who served in the Navy. The two were set up on a blind date and spent their first date — and many subsequent ones — dancing at the top of the Sherman Hotel in Washington, D.C. She and Bernie had two sons and have four grandsons who live a half-hour from their other home in Glenview, Ill.

Rude, a member of the National League of American Pen Women Society, plans to specifically honor one of her pen women friends, Alice DeCaprio, at the opening reception for the exhibit. DeCaprio was the first woman who joined the Navy during World War II.

“Three ladies from Michigan were the first women to join, and she was the first of the three women picked,” Rude says. “She controlled all the ships and told them where and where not to go.”

"Tribute to American Heroes"
Where: Plymouth Harbour
When: March 6 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

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