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Honor Veterans By Recording Their Stories

Bobbie O'Brien
WUSF Public Media
Images from the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall.

If you can’t attend a Veteran’s Day parade or ceremony this Wednesday, there is something else you can do to honor a veteran.

The Library of Congress is hoping civilians will help gather veterans’ stories and then submit their recordings to the Veterans’ History Project.

“Certainly, we should go out and thank our veterans, have ceremonies, mark their service, get behind them as a community,” said Bob Patrick, director of the Library of Congress Veterans’ History Project. “But it’s also a good opportunity to take that a step further and capture their stories, hear what they have to say.”

You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg to record a veteran’s story for the project. Patrick says anyone can participate using a consumer video camera, an audio recorder and even a smart phone.

Patrick said it’s common for veterans of all eras to think their stories are not worthy of becoming part of the country’s historical record.

“The fact is that any man or woman who puts on the uniform and raises their right hand to support and defend the Constitution of the United States has done,” Patrick said. “It’s also important to hear the stories of those who have served in a mess hall or in a medical tent wrenched at the motor pool.”

Patrick says the veterans’ project also accepts original materials like photographs and diaries.

“I’m particularly impressed with the letter collections we get in and letter writing is a lost art,” Patrick said. “It really gives you an insight into what they were going through.”

There’s even an online field kit with suggested questions and instructions on how to set up an interview.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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