Jess Weiss A Hero Forever

Jess & Joyce Weiss © Joe DiMaggio

Jess & Joyce Weiss © Joe DiMaggio

To All the Ships at Sea

Anyone that follows my blogs knows I’ve only done two blogs since August 5th. One blog was on the birthday of my son Joseph and the second a tribute to a great photographer Bill Eppridge, one of my heroes and a friend.  I’ve taken a hiatus for my blogs for a very specific reason which I will announce at the end of next month.
I just received a phone call from my friend’s daughter, Susan. When I saw the name on my phone my heart stopped. She said “Joe,”, ” I said please don’t tell me ,” and “she said yes.” I know Blogs are not meant to be about the dead. They should be about the living and in my case they should be about photography and filmmaking. If it wasn’t for my son Joseph and photographers like Bill Eppridge and visionaries like Jess Weiss my ability to make a photograph or do a film would be hindered to say the least. These are people in my life that have inspired, motivated and helped me understand the meaning of being on this blue marble for a short period of time.  Fifteen years ago my phone rang and it was Jess Weiss. He asked me to write his eulogy.  I was surprised, horrified, and frightened. Like Jess would always do, he put my mind at ease. He wasn’t sick he just wanted to make sure I’d be prepared for this day.  First a short history –  Jess was 97 years old the last book he wrote was –

Warrior to Spiritual Warrior the autobiography of Jess E. Weiss, one of the few living combat soldiers who survived the D-day landing on Omaha Beach. His experiences in Europe’s most famous battles were only the beginning of Weiss’ amazing story. He returned home from war to find himself facing a new battle, with the trauma that is known today as PTSD. A debilitating condition unrecognized in WW II, that led him to the most profound and transcendent spiritual journey imaginable.

Warrior to Spiritual Warrior is the post war memoir story of the journey Jess took as he rebuilt and reshaped his life. From the battlefields of WW II to his attempts to build a new spiritual foundation, Jess Weiss’ story is an unvarnished and stark portrait that will horrify, shock, illuminate, and ultimately liberate your faith in the strength of the human heart to heal and transcend the past..
If you follow my blogs you know I use the same expression over and over – you know I’m the luckiest man in the world.  I’ve always had people to go to –  a go to person for sports, for photography, for filmmaking, for writing and so on. Jess was my Go to Person for spiritual advisement and support.  He guided me through some of the darkest days in my life.  In a seven year period I lost my mother, father, brother, my son and nine close friends. His guidance, words, and beliefs helped me deal. I was honored to have him use one of my photos at the end of the remake of one of his books “The Vestibule”  The photo below was an original tribute to my father’s memory.  I think that Jess would be fine with it being repurposed in his memory.  He is still with us and will continue to be with me and in my heart forever. Thank you my friend,  you are a true American Hero.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio All Rights Reserved

Jess and Joyce Weisss © Joe DiMaggio

Jess and Joyce Weiss © Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio  All Rights Reserved

© Joe DiMaggio All Rights Reserved

Private Jess Weiss June 1941

Corporal Jess Weiss and Herb SiegelJess E. Weiss Director and philanthropist David Lynch and author Jess E. Weiss attend the meditation at The Paley Center for Media on December 13, 2010 in New York City-1e
David Lynch & Jess Weiss Transcendental Meditation Conference

The Silver Star

The Vestibule Cover

One of Jess’s Books

This blog should have been put up June 6, 2013

There are many people who judge their wealth by how much money they have in stocks, bonds, bank accounts, the size of their automobiles and how many summer homes they have. I’m not going to question them for the simple reason I am one of the richest men in the world. There are only 8 or 9 people who can verify that.  I became this wealthy because of great friendships.  The oldest living friend I have , since  Will Barnet has gone onto his studio in the sky at 101 years old. It now brings me to Jess Weiss my second oldest friend. The great part is he’s alive and well.  The first time I stepped into his office I noticed there was a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt thanking him for his bravery and next to the letter was the Silver Star, Purple Heart and several other Medals which unfortunately, I’m not familiar with.  That was approximately 20 years ago.  I said to Jess, “my God you’re a hero” and he looked at me and said,  “no I’m a coward.”  Like most true heroes they never speak of the war. They lived it and bled with it and it’s imbedded in every fiber of their being forever and probably will remain with them to the next level of consciousness. He explained he saw 3,000 men die that day and during the balance of the war about another 7,000 men.  He never elaborated on why he received all the medals he did. Jess was there for me when my mother, father, my son and my brother died. His words of wisdom, his teaching allowed me to go on and not give up. That translates into an infinite amount of money. Obviously the money is meaningless but the friendship is worth everything. So on the 69th Anniversary of the D Day Invasion I take my Beret off to my dear friend Jess Weiss. Monday he will be attending a dinner held by the French consulate and will be giving a short speech on Omaha Beach. I hope they’re not disappointed because Jess is not only one of the bravest men I know, but one of the humblest as well . God is truly in him. The French Government has just bestowed this Medal for Jess’s outstanding service 69 years ago on Omaha Beach.  Thank you my friend.  All Americans and all Frenchmen thank you.

Knight Medal of the French Legion d'honneur

Knight Medal of the French Legion d’honneur

©DiMaggio/Kalish

©DiMaggio/Kalish

David Lynch and  Jess Weiss (Transcendental Meditation Conference)

David Lynch and Jess Weiss (Transcendental Meditation Conference)