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Public Statements

Fifth Anniversary of the Veterans History Project

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT -- (House of Representatives - November 09, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of Vietnam War and the 60th anniversary of the end of Second World War. It also marks the fifth anniversary of the Veterans History Project.

Five years ago Congress unanimously passed legislation that I authored creating the Veterans History Project. It was ushered through Congress with the help of Representative Amo Houghton, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer), and Senators CLELAND and HAGEL.

The idea behind the project is simple, to collect, preserve and share with current and future generations alike the stories and history of American veterans and those who supported them on the home front. The project spans from World War I to the present, covering both World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It acts as both a learning tool and a living memorial to our Nation's veterans. Since its inception in 2000, the Veterans History Project's success has far exceeded our expectations. Despite modest funding, the Veterans History Project has an ever-increasing collection with more than 40,000 histories contributed by America's veterans, making it the largest oral history collection in the world today. Each story is unique, but taken together as a whole, the compilation puts a familiar face on the universal realities of war, courage and fear, horror and exhilaration, sorrow and triumph.

These collections include oral interviews, written, audio and video recordings, and authentic diaries, maps, letters and photographs. Thanks to the dedicated staff at the Library of Congress, where it is being housed, and the thousands of contributions from our many veterans across the country, the Veterans History Project has captured the American spirit better than any history book ever could.

The project also provides a way for local veterans to connect with students, community groups and each other. Across the country teachers have used the project as an eye-opening history lesson for their students. Veterans have been able to meet with classes, sharing their experiences with students and having their stories recorded as part of the project.

Two of the biggest supporters of the Veterans History Project in my congressional district are Bill Bruning, a veteran and Patriotic Officer for American Legion Post 52 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and Karen Schoenfeld. Karen teaches at a charter school in LaCrosse and includes the Veterans History Project in her class. Inspired by the veterans she and her class have met as part of the project, Karen wrote this beautiful poem that I would like to share. It is entitled ``I Never Saw Your Face Before.''

``I never saw your face before, I never knew your name. But now our paths have crossed, and I will never be the same.

``I never saw the flag before. Not really, not its soul. I only saw the stars, the stripes, a fabric on a pole.

``Now as I gaze upon our flag, I can see young faces, all called away from our proud land to other distant places.

``They did what they were called to do. They put their dreams on hold. They knew that others needed them. They did what they were told.

``And you, my friend, have taught me this, the sacrifices made. You helped me know what I have earned from the price that others paid.

``I've been in class, I've read the books. I've seen the movies, too. But now I know our freedom's price, all this I've learned from you.''

This beautiful poem is a testament to the power this project has had in educating Americans about our bravest men and women.

The Veterans History Project is a salute and an ongoing memorial to these many brave individuals who have sacrificed to protect the ideals of this great Nation and those who continue that proud tradition of service today.

On this Veterans Day, I invite my colleagues in Congress, as well as all Americans, to participate in this nationwide effort to honor our veterans. Anyone can contact their Representative's or Senator's office for more information on the Veterans History Project, or you can contact the Library of Congress through their Web site at loc.gov.

On this Veterans Day may we all take time to thank the veterans in our life, perhaps do an oral history interview with them or find some other way to show them our gratitude.

May God bless our men and women in uniform wherever they may be serving our country today. May God bless our veterans and their families and may God continue to bless these United States of America.

http://thomas.loc.gov

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