On Memorial Day, one congressman–a former seven-year POW–invited his district to help future generations remember the sacrifices of vets by contributing their stories to the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress.
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) has challenged the vets in the 3rd District (Plano and environs, in the suburbs north of Dallas) to submit at least 30 stories to the VHP by Veterans Day in November.
Created by Congress in 2000, the Veterans History Project coordinates and expands a national collection of veterans’ oral histories and writings. Part of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, the Project honors those who served in the military and those civilians who have worked in dedicated support of our armed forces.
“This is a critical mission, which has my strong support,” Johnson said in a statement. “The Project builds on our nation’s ever-evolving collective memory.”
Johnson, a 29-year Air Force veteran and Prisoner of War for nearly seven years in Vietnam, shared his story with the Veterans History Project in 2002.
Oral history (and the videos of veterans describing their time in the services) highlights experiences like “the experience of the concussions of artillery barrage; the intense camaraderie with others upon whom your life literally depends; the fear that comes with being under siege; or the uncertainty of waiting on the home front for a loved one to return,” Johnson continued. “So many men and women from World War I to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have powerful stories that must be recorded for future generations.”
And the time is ticking away for the preservation of this history. More than 1,000 veterans die every day.
The Veterans History Project recruits Americans of all ages, veterans and non-veterans, to be part of this process. The project also serves as a tremendous outlet for veterans’ sons and daughters, many of whom have long been curious about their father or mother’s wartime stories but never heard them. By sitting down with audio or video recorders and guiding veterans through their military and civilian exploits, these volunteers add rich details to our nation’s great history.
More information about the VHP, and a kit for creating lasting records of the veterans’ experiences, is available at the Library of Congress website.
Johnson is also providing the kits in his office in Richardson, Texas.
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