For the Record: Capturing American Veterans' Experiences of War

By Hymel, Kevin M. | Army, November 2006 | Go to article overview

For the Record: Capturing American Veterans' Experiences of War


Hymel, Kevin M., Army


Veterans of America, Uncle Sam wants you, again. More specifically, he wants your story. Veterans of every war have a story to tell, and the Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center is collecting soldiers' letters, diaries, photographs, taped and video interviews and anything else that helps to tell the story of Americans at war.

Begun in October 2000, the VHP collects whatever memorabilia it can from veterans from World War I to the present war on terrorism. Civilian volunteers, support staff and war industry workers' stories are also sought. It is a voluntary project, relying on veterans across the country to submit their own materials or citizens to interview veterans on either audio or video cassette and submit recordings to the VHP.

"Intergenerational interviews are some of our most important submissions," explains Robert Patrick, the director of the VHP. "High school and college students interviewing veterans as part of class projects or community service give them an appreciation of what veterans have done. We encourage people to interview a veteran for 90 minutes. It's that simple." The project relies almost exclusively on volunteer help, emphasizes Patrick.

The VHP has designed a field kit which includes interview guidelines, instructions on submitting materials and several required forms for submission. To obtain a kit, veterans or volunteers can go to the VHP web site at www.loc.gov/vets and click on "Participate in the Project."

The web site is also the portal to the collection, where veterans can be researched. …

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