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, we dedicate this day to thanks and remembrances for those who have served in an armed service. Now we also have the Veterans History Project.
In the U.S., we have national and regional observances for Veterans Day. 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 underappreciated. We can thank them and make certain they are not forgotten. We need to remember all of our veterans.
The Veterans History Project
In October 2000, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to create the Veterans History Project (VHP). It is part of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. The program 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). The Project also accepts the first-hand stories of citizens who actively supported 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 in the Library of Congress, more than 5,000 are fully digitized. You may access those through the website. If you need a specific collection or specific subject researched, there is an Ask the Librarian feature you can use.
Do Your Part
About now you’re asking yourself, how does this help me thank veterans? You can help collect veterans stories for the Project. 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.
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.
Have you heard of the Veterans History Project? Are you a veteran? Thank you so much for your service. Your service and your story are important, to me and to my readers. Will you share a bit of your story here?
What a lovely idea, Lynette. I had no idea there was this kind of history being collected in Canada. thx.
I had no idea about the oral history collection here in the States until I began researching Veterans projects and charities. I was delighted to be able to share this with everyone. I only wish I could have found some in Great Britain as well. Thanks for reading, Louise.
Fine post on remembering veterans and their amazing stories. It’s really great that you mentioned the Veteran’s History Project as it is so important.
Thanks, Karen. I agree, it is so important to capture these stories, the events and the sacrifices. I love how the Project is totally focused on respectfully honoring the memories of those who have served our country. We must never forget.
What an incredible idea. I just got teary eyed remembering several friends who are vets that I didn’t think to thank. We can never thank them enough.
I have friends and relatives who have served, too. You are so right, Karla. Even if we say thank you every day, it can’t be enough.
My father never talks about his experiences in WWII, but I have a feeling he might open up to my nephew, who’s in active service. Hmm, I’m off to pull some strings.
Thanks for this post, Lynette.
Pat, many people don’t talk about their time in service, especially to their children. It might feel safer to your father to talk to someone who isn’t such a close and dear relative. The guidelines for doing interviews for the Veterans History Project gives suggestions on how to make it safe for the vet to talk about his experiences, to be respectful and listen more than you speak. God bless your father and tell him how I am ever so thankful for his service. Good luck, Pat.
Thank you for writing this post. I had never heard of the Veterans History Project but it’s important to record history from the mouths of the people who were there. Sometimes in Europe it is easy to forget that US has troops fighting and dying abroad all the time. Finland is lucky since our last war was fought in the time of our grandfathers. Mine was there too as a young lad. But we have a lot of volunteers in Peace Corps.
Reetta, you are very welcome. Yes, we almost always have some of our troops engaged in an armed conflict somewhere. Those men and women volunteer for this duty, not because they like war, but out of patriotism, a sense of duty, and things they believe in.
You are right. Finland is very lucky to not have had more recent wars. It’s wonderful that so many volunteer for the Peace Corps. Thanks for sharing that.
This is a fantastic project. Thank you for telling us about it. My husband is a veteran. He served in Iraq. I think it’s so important that the experiences of the men and women who were willing to give their lives to protect us are preserved for future generations.
Thanks, Marcy. And thank your husband for his service, for me, won’t you?