This Veterans Day, in recognition of the sacrifices made by our local veterans, U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) is launching the Veterans History Project (VHP) in the 13th Congressional District. An initiative of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the VHP compiles and preserves the stories of American war veterans to offer a real-life historical account of America's combat operations for future generations.
Biggert is seeking participation from local high schools and area veteran service organizations, who will be paired up to document the stories of local veterans through photographs, diaries, letters, and audio and video interviews. The VHP accepts accounts of veterans from World War I through current conflicts, including the historical documents of the deceased. The personal narratives are archived at the Library of Congress and made available to the public and researchers.
"On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the men and women who have made tremendous personal sacrifices to safeguard our nation and protect the freedoms we enjoy. Participating in the Veterans History Project is the perfect way to celebrate the lives of our local heroes, and preserve their stories as part of the permanent collection in the Library of Congress. The stories of our local veterans deserve to be told and remembered forever," Biggert said. "Through this initiative, the journals of our loved ones from Vietnam or other conflicts will become part of the history books, where we can keep their memories alive."
The VHP can be easily incorporated into a high school history, media, or library program. Biggert's office will provide area high schools with the field kit and resources necessary to meet the standards set forth by the Library of Congress. After pairing up high school students (10th - 12th grade) with local wartime veterans, Biggert's office will provide training for the program.
Biggert was an original co-sponsor of the legislation that created the VHP in 2000, when it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
"We've already received interest from one local high school, and I am excited to see the momentum around this project build," said Biggert, referring to Downers Grove North High School, where 30 students and 15 veterans signed up to participate during this week's Veterans Day assembly. "Interviewing our wartime veterans is a unique and inspiring opportunity for our young people. The Veterans History Project gives us a chance to express our gratitude to those who put themselves in harm's way for the good of our country."