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Veterans' history collection grows.

Sixty-five years ago, the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II. Collecting and preserving the stories from veterans of that war and all of America's wars and conflicts will help ensure that future generations will remember and honor their service and sacrifice.

The Veterans History Project collects oral histories and documentary materials from those who served in the military from World War I through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 45,000 veterans have submitted their stories, and the collection includes hundreds of thousands of photographs, journals, letters, interviews and other items. Hundreds of organizations, including the DAV, and thousands of volunteers around the country participate in the Veterans History Project, which is operated by the Library of Congress through its American Folklife Center.

"The DAV is very pleased to have been one of the Veterans History Project's earliest partners and long-time supporters," said National Commander Bradley S. Barton. "A great many of our members have contributed their personal stories and volunteered to collect oral histories from their fellow disabled veterans. It's a tremendous way to help preserve a vital part of American history that might otherwise be lost."

Recognizing the need of collecting the wartime stories of America's veterans, Congress authorized the Veterans History Project in 2000. The collection documents the contributions of civilian volunteers, support staff and war industry workers as well as the experiences of military personnel of all ranks from every branch of service.

The majority of the collection comes from individuals. The resulting audio or videotapes and related documentary materials that are collected are preserved at the Library of Congress as part of the permanent record of the nation's history. Researchers of all kinds have used the collections, which can be used at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center Reading Room in Washington, D.C., or may be viewed online at

The Library of Congress is working with local organizations, such as DAV Chapters, to create programming and interview opportunities on the Veterans History Project. Some ideas to involve local groups include:

* Schedule a film at a Chapter meeting and ask a DAV member to introduce the film and discuss wartime experiences

* Create exhibits of books and posters related to a particular war

* Invite a veteran to speak about his or her war experiences and display memorabilia

* Use archives to research local wartime activities to identify hometown veterans and others who served in support of the war effort

* Work with high school or college students who have adopted the Veterans History Project as part of their studies or community service requirement.

Individuals, family members and veterans are encouraged to participate in the Veterans History Project, by interviewing a veteran or by telling their own wartime stories.

A formal setting is not required. Family picnics and dinner tables are just fine for interview settings. There's no need to use fancy, expensive recording equipment, either. What matters more is to record the veteran's story any way you can. Official paperwork must accompany sent items. Project organizers accept all media, including audio cassettes, VHS tapes and mini DVDs.

Those who are interested in participating or learning more about the project are encouraged to e-mail the office at or visit the Veterans History Project Web site at Here you can find more information about partners in your state, download a project kit or learn ways to get involved.
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Publication:DAV Magazine
Date:May 1, 2007
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