Magazine article Army

Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service

Magazine article Army

Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service

Article excerpt

Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service. Tom Wiener. National Geographic Books. 337 pages; black & white photographs; index; $26.

On Veterans Day 2000, the Library of Congress American Folklife Center unveiled its Veterans History Project, an ambitious endeavor to record and preserve the personal accounts of veterans of America's wars. Over five years the project has received 40,000 submissions from veterans, volunteer interviewers and veterans' family members at a rate of 200 a week, all of which are archived in the Library of Congress. Forever a Soldier is the second volume of these submissions produced by National Geographic, containing 37 stories from the archive spanning World War I to the Persian Gulf War.

Historian Tom Wiener selected the stories, which are not arranged in chronological order but rather in sections according to common themes, such as groundbreakers, survival and brotherhood. This approach effectively conveys the message that regardless of the generation fighting the war, many experiences are common to every soldier. Prisoners of the Japanese, Vietcong and Iraqis experienced the same tests of their wills to live; the first black, Japanese-American and women soldiers experienced the same discrimination and prejudices; and in each war young soldiers naïve about the horrors of combat experienced the same traumatic events.

The stories are based on interviews, letters, journals and memoirs. Even though the interviews were conducted up to 60 years later, the veterans are able to recall many details of their experiences. …

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