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Preserving the Stories of America's Veterans

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Preserving the Stories of America's Veterans

Some of the major issues at the heart of the 2004 presidential campaign are ones involving veterans of the United States Armed Forces: financial benefits, health care, and the overall place veterans hold in our national fabric. At times when we discuss these issues, however, it seems something important gets lost in the process: the sacrifices and the accomplishments of the veterans themselves. And as the November election draws closer, the debate surrounding veterans' affairs certainly will become more divisive and heated - meaning the stories of sacrifices and accomplishments may be pushed even further out of the spotlight.

So, before the rhetoric gets too loud, I want to share with you some good news. I recently wrote to several local veterans' organizations announcing that I'll be leading an effort to highlight the stories of military veterans living right here in the Eighth Congressional District. It's part of the national campaign spearheaded by the Library of Congress called the Veterans History Project. This project has been launched to collect and preserve the personal stories of our nation's war veterans. And to make it as successful as I believe it can be, I'll need your help.

There are nearly 19 million war veterans living in the United States today, but hundreds of our older veterans pass on daily, their memories lost to us and - more tragically - to future generations. The Veterans History Project exists for the sole purpose of capturing these memories for all time. It accomplishes this by collecting and preserving audio- and video-taped oral histories, along with documentary materials such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, and home movies from our war veterans and those who served in support of them.

I hope you might find the time to become involved in the Veterans History Project in one of two ways.

First, you can volunteer to become a trained interviewer. At a date to be determined, my office will host an event here in the Eighth District where professionals from the Library of Congress will conduct a training workshop for volunteer interviewers. I encourage high school students, college students, library employees, members of veterans' organizations, and others from our community to become volunteers by attending this informative workshop. More details on the workshop will follow in the coming weeks and months.

Second, if you're a veteran or civilian war worker, I hope you'll consider joining this project by volunteering to be interviewed. Your oral history would be preserved and would become a permanent part of the national Veterans History Project Collection at the Library of Congress. In other words, generations upon generations of Americans will have the opportunity to learn the story of your unique and selfless service.

You can find more information on the Veterans History Project by visiting its official website, If this sounds like an interesting and meaningful project that you'd like to be a part of, let me know. If you would like to be interviewed - or if you would like to become a member of the critical, core team of volunteer interviewers - please contact my office toll-free at 1-800-582-1001. I'm leading this effort here in the Eighth District because I'm convinced it will enrich everyone involved - from the veterans who fought for our nation to the rest of us who are blessed to live in freedom because of their courage.

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