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Honoring Veterans, One Story at a Time

The Veterans History Project has more than 99,000 collections. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The Veterans History Project has more than 99,000 collections. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Americans will pause Wednesday to remember the nation’s veterans. But one Library of Congress project is working to ensure veterans’ stories are preserved for years to come.  

The Veterans History Project is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. It was established on Oct. 27, 2000, by an act of Congress, and over the past 15 years the project has collected more than 99,000 stories of service members. Former Librarian of Congress James H. Billington touted the program at congressional hearings on the Library’s budget, noting in his March testimony to the Senate subcommittee of jurisdiction it “is now the largest oral history project in America.”  

The law establishing the project stated its goal was “that Americans will always remember those who served in war and may learn first-hand of the heroics, tediousness, horrors, and triumphs of war.”  

Those accounts are found in the collections through a variety of mediums, including interviews, letters, photographs and drawings. The project contains veterans’ accounts from 17 different conflicts, ranging from World War I and the Cold War to the Iraq War and the war on terror.  

Although the project has collected nearly 100,000 stories, the Library of Congress is looking to boost its representation of veterans from the nation’s capital.  

In July, the Library of Congress launched an initiative aimed at increasing stories from District of Columbia veterans. “The Library of Congress needs to ensure DC area veterans’ voices are collected and heard,” said the notice on the project’s website, which also encouraged social media engagement using the hashtag #DoYourPartDC.  

As part of its 15th anniversary, the Veterans History Project is also highlighting 15 collections that tell the stories of combat veterans and military support staff from WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Iraq War.  

“While these collections vary widely in scope, each fulfills VHP’s mission of capturing the stories of veterans in their own words,” states the anniversary’s website .  

The Veterans History Project is also celebrating its 15th year collecting stories by declaring 2015 the “Year of the Interviewer .” Audio and video interviews are key components of the project, and the designation honors those who have taken the time to document veterans’ stories.  

Anyone interested in participating in the project must submit a series of forms available on the library’s website and send the collection to the Library of Congress.  

Project Collects Veterans’ Stories

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