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Why do they call it that? A veteran's legacy of learning | News

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Why do they call it that? A veteran's legacy of learning

As we get ready to honor our veterans on Friday, we'll tell you about one of the thousands of World War II vets who built the Tampa Bay we love today.

Why do they call it the John F. Germany Library?

Wanna grab a couple good books? Maybe The Good Book? How about amazing images from Tampa Bay's past?

All of it's at Downtown Tampa's main library, which proudly has this name on its side: John F. Germany.

"One of my grandchildren -- young grandchildren -- says, 'Papa, does that mean you own all those books in that library?' I said, 'All those ideas!' Nobody owns them at all,'" John Germany said with a hearty laugh.

As a teenager, Germany delivered papers in Plant City. Now, at 88 years old, he still works. Today, he's one of the top lawyers at one of Tampa's top law firms, Holland and Knight.

So when did John the paperboy become John, the man? He can pinpoint nearly the precise moment.

December 7th, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor. John left college for the Army.

The Army kept him in the U.S., training, for years. Finally, young Germany went off to fight... where else? In Germany!

"Fortunately, this was in April. And Hitler gave up in May. I've always joked about the fact when Hitler saw me coming, he gave up," Germany said.

His Army unit liberated work camps and much more, then got new orders. Scary, scary orders.

"We were assigned to be an invasion division on Japan. They expected 100 percent casualties," he remembered with a grave expression on his face.

But Japan surrendered before he got there.

John Germany became one of around 250,000 Floridians to serve during World War II. About 3,000 of them never came home. John Germany did come home, and dedicated himself to serving our community.

Germany says two highlights stand out:

Working as a top aide to Gov. LeRoy Collins, when Collins became one of the only southern governors to stand up in favor of teaching black and white students together.

Oh, and convincing Governor Collins -- after several late night arguments -- to support a bill creating Florida's fourth state university, the University of South Florida.

"What have you done? If you want to know something good?" Germany said.

"To have this woman come up to me and say, 'You know, I never would have gone to college. I have graduated from the University of South Florida. I have been a teacher for all these years," he said, getting emotional.

"I mean, now that -- that's... that's motivating."

The list of boards and groups Germany has supported over the years could fill a library. Hey -- you don't say! -- Germany was head of the fundraising drive that built the new main library in Downtown Tampa in the late 1960's.

Decades later, when city leaders said they'd like to name something in Germany's honor, he said please -- let it be this library -- full of ideas we all own together.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.


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