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Honor a veteran through the Veterans History Project
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · November 9th, 2017

As Veterans Day approaches, we seek ways to honor those who helped preserve our freedom in times of conflict. One of the best ways you can contribute is to participate in the Veterans History Project.

This special project consists of personal accounts of American war veterans. They are recorded or written down and sent to Washington, D.C. After processing, the materials are placed permanently in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress so that future generations are able to hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

The VHP concept was submitted to Congress by U.S. Representatives Ron Hind, Amo Houghton and Steny Hoyer and also U.S. Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel. The legislation - Public Law 106-380 - received unanimous support from all members of Congress and was signed into law on October 27, 2000, by President Clinton.

Those who can be interviewed include any veteran who has served in the U.S. military from WWI to the present and is no longer serving. This is without regard to branch of the service or rank. Civilians who served in support of a United States war effort in a professional capacity also are welcome to participate.

There is no deadline for submitting materials. As the website suggested, "Any day is a good day to share, record or submit a veteran's story. Begin today."

Here are some ideas for recording these stories:

Interview vets at your next family reunion.

Interview mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc. on their birthdays or days of honor.

Gather wartime love letters, photo collections, memoirs and journals.

Interview military spouses on their day of honor.

Visit retirement communities, senior centers, or VA hospitals and conduct interviews.

The City of Marion and other local groups are encouraged to honor our

veterans in some of the following ways:

Create an honor roll of all the veterans and display it in public spaces (ex: City Hall).

Conduct a hometown Veterans Census and publish the results.

Host a USO-theme concert and invite veterans and their families.

Link your website to the Veterans History Project Website to spotlight participants from Marion and the local area.

The Heritage Center has already organized speakers for its special exhibit from last year regarding veterans from various wars.

Where do people find vets to interview? Often, the vet is a close friend or family member. Other vets willing to share their stories include those in veterans service organizations, Veterans Affairs, and senior centers and retirement communities. For example, Van Van Sickle and Marv Wymore, as well as at least one other gentleman at Summit Pointe, are interested in sharing their information but have not been interviewed yet for the project.

Who can do the interviewing? You can. Volunteers or organizations from all across the country participate in the VHP. The interviewers can be friends, family members, students in grade 10 or higher, high school and university educators, authors, members of veterans service organizations, those from places of worship, members of retirement communities, leaders and members of Scout troops, and those in local business and professional organizations.

Scouts, both boys and girls, can adopt working on the VHP as an Eagle project or their Gold Award, for which they typically conduct eight to 15 interviews. Or a Scout group (grade 10 or older) can perform interviews as part of their community service.

A collection for the VHP can include first-person narratives in the forms of original unedited audio/video recorded interviews. It also can include photographs, letters, diaries, journals, military documents, two-dimensional artwork, maps and unpublished memoirs.

It is recommended that people submit the materials soon after compiling them. Veterans and their families are eager for their interviews to be included in the Library of Congress.

Here are a few requirements:

The minimum length for a recorded interview is at least 30 minutes.

The minimum number of pages for memoirs, diaries or journals is at least 20 pages.

The minimum number of original photographs, letters, maps or pieces of artwork and pages required for military documents is at least 10.

The Veterans History Project provides measures and advice to safeguard private or classified information.

A kit is available online for anyone who wishes to participate in the VHP. It contains guidelines, necessary forms to fill out (for both veteran and interviewer) and a list of questions, how to submit information, length of time to get the material catalogued at the Library of Congress and how to look up what you have submitted.

The Marion Times wishes to encourage Marion residents and local organizations to participate in this worthy activity before the stories from our veterans are lost forever.

For more information, look at the "Veteran History Project" online. Want to form a group to help with this important activity? Talk with your friends, church groups, and organizations to get started.
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