Honoring him on the page
When Brizill was in the fifth or sixth grade, he knew he wanted to be a teacher.
“I had a lot of great teachers coming up in elementary school, middle school and high school,” said Brizill, who teaches history at Elkton High School in Maryland. “I wanted to do what they did.”
A self-described World War II buff, Brizill said he has gravitated to reading about history since he was a kid. He added that his grandfathers were both veterans — one served in World War II, the other in the Korean War — who amplified his love of learning about history.
When Brizill first learned about Miller, he was surprised that he hadn’t heard the story sooner.
One of the things that pushed Brizill to write his book was a documentary made by National Geographic in 2001 about Miller as part of the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Not only did he enjoy hearing Miller’s story, but so did the students that Brizill shared it with.
Over the past three or four years, Brizill has researched Miller’s history with the intent to write a book about it.
He said his book is primarily targeted toward middle schoolers, but he has found that adults want to read books like his too.
“People want to hear stories like Dorie Miller because most people weren’t taught about this in school,” he said.
Brizill hopes readers, especially young people who are told what they can’t do, find a kindred underdog spirit in Miller and are reminded of what they can do.
“I think our young people need heroes,” he said. “They need to hear about stories that maybe aren’t front and center, aren’t familiar. They need to see examples of young people who overcame the odds. They need to see examples of young people that rose above the labels that were placed on them.”
As his book enters the hands of audiences, Brizill said telling Miller’s story was his way of sharing one of the voices that has been hushed by history.
“To introduce this extraordinary individual to a new generation of kids was a rewarding experience,” he said. “I like to find stories