Preserve Wartime History

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The Library of Congress is initiating the Veterans History Project through its American Folklife Center. The American Folklife Center collects and preserves audio and videotaped interviews of veterans from WWI, WWII and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars for the project.

A reunion may be the perfect time and place to encourage everyone to “preserve” wartime experiences, on or off the battlefield. The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has launched a huge effort to collect and preserve as many personal experiences as possible in light of the large number of WWI and WWII veterans who are dying each day. Preservation can be on audio and video tapes, photographs, slides, commendations or personal wartime letters.

The project suggests that you prepare questions before recording. These are some of the subjects that should be covered. Were you drafted or did you enlist? What are your most vivid memories of wartime experience? How did the experience effect your life? What are your military life and culture memories? What are your homefront memories?

Photographs, diaries and letters are also being collected.

The project isn’t exclusive to veterans. Congress wants the public to participate – children interviewing grandparents, students talking with veterans, veterans interviewing each other and other groups (libraries, museums, schools, organizations) starting independent projects to complement other research.

A National Registry of Service will list names of persons whose wartime histories are in the collection. This is the perfect project to involve children and grandchildren in interviewing and learning more about parents’ or grandparents’ wartime experiences. Many veteran, history and community organizations, libraries, museums and civic groups are involved in collecting and interviewing. For a source in your area, visit www.loc.gov/folklife/vets or call 202-707-4919.

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