There’s nothing better than a good story that reminds us of how love can prevail. So we’re loving this sweet tale of two World War II veterans—John Banvard and his husband, Vietnam vet Gerard “Jerry” Nadeau—who first met in 1998, during a time when neither was openly gay. Banvard was a theater man, while Nadeau was an outdoorsman. But against many odds, they fell in love.
Though they have been together for almost 25 years now, Banvard, 100, and Nadeau, 72, were both “sort of in the closet,” they explained during a StoryCorps interview, which originally aired on NPR’s “Morning Edition” radio show on Friday, Feb. 9. Here’s the sweet pic NPR’s StoryCorps used to tease the interview:
During the interview, Banvard explains that had the two never met, he “would’ve continued being lonely. I’d have been absolutely lost.”
“And I never had a real relationship,” adds Nadeau. “Now we’ve been together almost 25 years. And when we moved into the veterans’ home, we moved in together. And a lot of people were wondering, ‘I wonder what their relationship is?'”
The two got married in 2013 after living together for three years in a veterans’ home in Chula Vista, California. The casual ceremony was held in the nursing home, with hot dogs as the main course.
“We got married at the veterans’ home and we said, ‘If you came to see the bride, you’re out of luck!’ Do you remember that?” says Nadeau in the interview.
A laughing Banvard replied, “of course,” speaking wistfully of the informal ceremony, which was “done simply.”
Many at the nursing home had previously been confused as to what the nature of their relationship was. The wedding certainly cleared that up. To Banvard’s delight, there was very little ridicule and they were surprisingly accepting of their union.
The StoryCorps interview concluded with Nadeau reminiscing over a fond memory from their wedding day.
“Remember, John, I was with you in the cafeteria and somebody came up and they were with their family and they said, ‘Oh, this is Gerard Nadeau and this is his husband, John.’ I had never heard that before,” said Nadeau.
“Yeah. That was very nice,” Banvard agreed. “I think we’re probably as happy together as any two people you’re likely to meet.”
Anyone else smiling uncontrollably? If you have a similar love story to share, we want to hear it!