Honoring Our Veterans by Preserving Their Stories
November 4, 2005
"Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."
--Dwight D. Eisenhower
As we approach Veterans Day 2005, our nation again is poised to pay special tribute to the veterans of our armed forces. From the beaches of Normandy and the mountains of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of the Persian Gulf, the veterans of America's armed forces have shown the world this nation is not merely the home of freedom, it is the defender of freedom throughout the world.
Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the precious gift of liberty we enjoy. This is why I'd like to tell you about an ongoing effort that aims to help Americans honor the men and women who have defended freedom throughout our history.
The effort is called the Veterans History Project, and it is headed up by the Library of Congress. Its goal is to archive the personal stories of wartime veterans in order to share them with current and future generations. There are nearly 19 million war veterans living in the nation today. Each of them has a story to tell and a unique perspective on the values that comprise the fabric of our nation. What better way to honor them and their sacrifices than to hear their stories first-hand? That is what the Veterans History Project is all about.
The Veterans History Project catalogues and preserves audio and video-taped interviews of veterans recalling their wartime experiences. It also collects documentary materials such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs and home movies.
Of course, in addition to the veterans themselves, the project depends on many dedicated volunteers throughout the country. These volunteers actually coordinate and conduct interviews with local veterans. Once on film, they are responsible for submitting the interviews to the Library of Congress to be archived.
The Veterans History Project reaches into the past and brings to life America's war experiences at home and abroad -- from the routine to the extraordinary, from enlistment to discharge. If you are interested in getting involved, I encourage you to contact one of the groups listed below. By signing up to help, not only will you walk away with a better understanding of our nation's past, you'll be helping future generations benefit from the shared personal histories of our country's veterans.
Whether you are a veteran who'd like to be interviewed, or are a volunteer interested in conducting interviews, you can contact one of the following official partners of the Veterans History Project:
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You can learn more about the Veterans History Project by visiting its website at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
As we prepare to mark Veterans Day on November 11th, let us take time to thank our nation's military veterans and remember the sacrifices they have made to make America the greatest land on Earth. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can be repaid only by preserving their stories and preserving the freedom they have protected for generations. In the words of President Reagan, "We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free."