Heroes

Remembering: Veterans History Project

Veterans Tribute picture by DVIDSHUB

by DVIDSHUB, Flickr Creative Commons, www.flickr.com/photos/dvids/6309549518/

It’s Veteran’s Day in the United States. Other countries also honor their veterans. Whether it’s called Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, it’s a day dedicated to thank and remember the men and women who have served in one of their country’s armed services.

In the U.S., we have national and regional observances. There are banquets, parades, free meal offers, special discounts, and hundreds of charities through which we try to say thank you to our veterans. As a country we have become more aware and more grateful to the soldiers who have served in the military since September 11, 2001. But we have other veterans, some of them feel forgotten and under appreciated. We can thank them and make certain they are not forgotten. We need to remember all of our veterans.

In October 2000, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to create the Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. It is program that collects and preserves the first-hand stories of America’s wartime veterans, primarily oral histories. VHP collects personal narratives, letters, and visual materials from veterans of: World War I (1914-1920); World War II (1939-1946); the Korean War (1950-1955); the Vietnam War (1961-1975); the Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present). It will also accept the first-hand stories of citizens who were actively involved in supporting the war (USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.). (Please be aware that there are other websites that use the name Veterans History Project, but are not part of the Library of Congress.)

The VHP collection is available to the public at the Library of Congress. There is no charge. Of the 60,000 collections available more than 5,000 are fully digitized and may be accessed through the website. If you need a specific collection or specific subject researched, there is an Ask the Librarian feature you can use.

About now you’re asking yourself, how does this help me thank veterans? You can help make certain veterans stories are collected. Record an interview an American veteran one you know, or one you get to know for the purpose of participating in this project. Their experiences are an important part of American history. Recording their stories assures that they won’t be forgotten, that they are honored, remembered, and respected. Go, print off the VHP Field Kit to get the specifics on how to record the interview and submit it to VHP.

Not an American? I was able to find oral history collections available for my Canadian friends, at the Military Oral History collections of the University of Victoria Libraries and for my Australian friends there is the Through My Eyes collection at the Australians At War website.

US Army soldier on duty

by Mateus_27:24&25
creative commons license
www.flickr.com/photos/mateus27_24-25/3118326650/

Have you thanked a veteran today? Have you asked to hear his or her story? If you have his or her permission, I’d love for you to share with us in the comments below.

Are you a veteran? Thank you so much for your service. Your service, and your story, is important, to me and to my readers. Will you share a bit of your story here?

How Bad Do You Want It?

On October 14th Felix Baumgartner, Austrian skydiver, daredevil, and BASE jumper achieved his goal.

Did You Watch Him Fall Down From the Sky?


John Anealio: Vocals & Acoustic Guitar

 

If you missed the spectacular jump, watch this video:

Did you catch who his sponsor was? Red Bull! Apropos, don’t you think? See more information at the official Red Bull Stratos team website.

For more technical information about the jump, go to extremetech.com.

Baumgartner wasn’t the first to try to achieve this record. Joseph Kittinger tried it in 1960. In fact, Kittinger still holds the record for the longest time in free fall (five minutes and 35 seconds).

Lesson Learned

I don’t know about you, but I am terrified of heights.  Put me on a three foot ladder and I start to shake, make the ladder a five foot ladder and I’m hyperventilating. I could never do what Felix Baumgartner or Joseph Kittinger did.  But I admire them.  Is that admiration due to jumping out of the balloon capsule higher than anyone else? No. Is it because they fell further and faster than anyone, ever? Uh-uh. Is it because Baumgartner broke the sound barrier with his body?  Nope.

Kittinger was a fighter pilot in Viet Nam and later made extreme altitude parachute jumps for Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories.

Baumgartner did more than 2,500 skydives, seven years of preparation with the Red Bull sponsored team, two test jumps, and a three-hour ascent in a tiny, pressurized capsule lifted by an ultra-thin helium balloon. All of that for a terrifying nine minute descent, for speeds up to 833.9 miles per hour, a world record, and tons of scientific data. Data that NASA hopes will lead to improvements in spacesuits and escape plans for future astronauts.

Don’t forget that neither Kittinger nor Baumgartner could have accomplished what they did without the drive and determination of past skydivers, researchers, and scientists who developed the base knowledge and equipment necessary.

For me, reading about these men (and women) puts things into perspective. It takes a lot of hard work to reach for your dreams, to be successful.

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”

Do you have a goal that you feel may be impossible?

How bad do you want it?

Fascination Friday: A Virtual Memorial Tour

It’s Friday Fascinations and Veteran’s Day. So the links I’ll post today will be those that I found fascinating about the wars our country has fought. A small tribute to the Courage, Honor, Patriotism and Sacrifice of our men and women of who have served our country.

The Great War

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is in Kansas City, MO. It is the only American museum dedicated solely to preserving objects from The Great War which lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918 (does that date sound familiar?). Visitors enter the museum by crossing the a glass bridge suspended over a field of 9000 red poppies. Each poppy represents a combatant fatality. The museum’s displays, memorabilia and interactive exhibits tell the comprehensive story of the war through the eyewitness testimony of people who experienced the war. There are letters, diaries, videos, and newspaper reports. Some of these will bring a tear to your eye. They did mine. It’s an impressive collection and far more material than you can possibly cover in a day. The museum also houses a 20,000 square foot research area that is open to the public.

World War II

Depending upon which source you go to, somewhere between 70 – 100 million military personnel were mobilized during the second World War II. This conflict was fought from 1939 to 1945. (Isn’t conflict a nice, clean, distant word to use when talking about a war that had the distinction of the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare and the deadliest in human history with 50-70 million fatalities.) Go here for Digital history’s guided reading list about WWII. And you’ll find 10 things you may not know about World War II.

The Korean War

The Korean War (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953) belonged to my father’s generation. Korea had been ruled by Japan until the end of World War II when the country became part of the spoils of war. It was divided at the 38th Parallel. American Troops occupied the southern half of the peninsula and Soviet troops occupied the northern part. That set up was a formula for war. For more information about this war go to Korean War.org. For one man who would do it again if he had to go here.

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was my generations’ war. It was the first time war was shown on the television screen. The consequences were enormous. I hope that American’s will never be so naive about war nor so disrespectful of her soldiers ever again. Please go here for more information. And if you are ever in Washington DC visit the wall, one of the most visually stunning memorials I’ve ever seen.

POWs and MIAs

This tribute must include our prisoners of war (POWs) and our missing in action (MIAs). For biographies and information about POWs go toAmerican Ex-POWs. A site specifically about women prisoners of war is here. And please, in your virtual memorial tour, be sure to visit Never Forgotten.

A Tribute to Heroes

This has been an emotional tour for me. My husband calls me a sap, a marshmallow. I can’t help it. My heart breaks for all of the lost, the wounded (physical and emotional), and the friends and families of all those men and women.

But my heart also busts with pride because Americans choose to fight, to serve, because they believe in the ideals of this country and they hold our flag proudly. I say thank you for your service every time I meet or see person in military uniform. Today I get the great honor of saying to all those who have served or are currently in service, to the ones I haven’t met and to their families: THANK YOU for your service to our great country. And now I close with one of my all-time favorite music videos honoring and celebrating veterans: “Here’s to the Heroes: a Military Tribute.”

Believe

The other day when I revealed the work I’d done on my husband’s website, my husband called me his hero. It took me by surprise. Me? A hero? We talked for a while about what he meant and it got me to thinking about my definition of a hero.

As a little girl I loved stories about heroes and heroines. I believed in the everyman characters who became heroes through their grand, selfless acts. I believed with my whole heart.

I still believe in heroes today. Yes, I am a romantic optimist: I believe in the classic hero, the kind that I write about in my action-suspense science fiction novels. But I also believe in ‘everyday’ heroes.

Classic Heroes
Our men and women on the battlefields are heroes, the ones whose acts we learn about and many we, the public, will never know. So too, men and women in the newspaper whose bold acts catch the public eye, like the cafeteria worker walking to work who stopped to pull a family to safety from their burning home, are heroes. These are heroes in the classic sense of the word: men and women who perform feats of great courage or nobility of purpose often at great risk to themselves. I do not want to denigrate these acts. These people are heroes. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their service, their selflessness.

But there are other heroes The heroes whose acts of great courage and nobility of purpose are not bold and do not require public acts of strength or self-sacrifice. These are the heroes who typically do not even think of themselves as heroes, but they are. They are people we can look up to and hope to emulate.

’Everyday’ Heroes
As a pediatric nurse, I see ‘everyday’ heroes and heroines on a daily basis. They are family members, parents, foster parents, and patients who face what seem to be insurmountable odds. They have suffered personal tragedies, traumas, or setbacks. I look at their lives from the outside and think it must take a tremendous amounts of courage in order to get through their day. And I am certain there are days when they feel beat down, as if they can’t take another step. Yet, they move forward with a smile, with profound love and kindness. They go to work every single day, help their family, do the things that need to be done. It wasn’t how they envisioned their life. They adapt, modify, incorporate the things they must do into their everyday life. Many of them don’t just follow the path they were given. They manage to step outside the box and follow their dream.

How do they do that?
I think the ones that manage to do this are a little like bulldogs themselves. They have a tenacious belief in their goal. It is that belief that keeps them moving forward, a belief that sometimes is so ingrained in who they are that they don’t even know they are doing something ‘against all odds.’

Sometimes, life beats you down. Maybe medical issues, economic issues, security, or any of the thousands of other possibilities have have overcome you. Next time you think you’ve lost that optimism, that belief in your own courage, that belief in yourself. Remember heroes do exist, in stories and in real life. Remember that you may be someone’s hero without even knowing it. And remember to believe . . .

Believe in your dreams.
Believe in today.
Believe that you are loved.
Believe that you make a difference.
Believe we can build a better world.
Believe when others might not.
Believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Believe that you might be that light for someone else.
Believe that the best is yet to be.
Believe in each other.
Believe in yourself. — Kobi Yamada

I believe in heroes. Do you?

I’d love to hear from you. Who are some of your heroes?