Interview Date: June 22, 2017
Interview Location: Morton Grove Public Library
Interviewer: Chad Comello
Transcriber: Elizabeth Ceisel
Duration: 90 minutes
J. Herman Sitrick has lived in Morton Grove for almost 50 years. A first-generation American, Sitrick’s parents emigrated from Russia and settled in Davenport, Iowa, where he grew up. In 1943, at age 18, he was drafted into the 83rd Infantry Division, which was among the first replacements after the initial D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach. He fought through Normandy, Luxembourg, German’s Hürtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge, where he single-handedly captured 21 German soldiers during a snowy night in an abandoned farmhouse. For his heroics, in June 2017 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor for military and civil actions.
After his discharge in December 1945, Sitrick married Marcia, his wife of 71 years, and worked in broadcasting, which brought him to radio stations around the country before settling in Chicago. He started his own advertising business in 1981 in Skokie, where he remains working today. In addition to the widespread media coverage Sitrick has garnered since receiving the Legion d’Honneur, the Village of Morton Grove’s board of trustees recently proclaimed June 26 to be J. Herman Sitrick Day.
In this interview, Sitrick talks about his war experience, his chance encounter with Martin Luther King, Jr., the relationships he gained through his advertising business, and the successes of his three sons.