This post originally appeared on The White House blog on November 11, 2013. Read it here.
Approximately 17 million American war veterans are living in the United States today.
Every one of them has a story.
For the past 13 years, the Veterans History Project (VHP) has been collecting the oral histories and personal documents of America’s war veterans, to ensure their stories are preserved in the Library of Congress so that future generations may better understand the realities of war.
To date, nearly 90,000 stories have been collected by volunteers nationwide.
Using the VHP Field Kit, which is a how-to-collect-a-story booklet, thousands of volunteers have interviewed veterans in their communities about their experiences. Students in grade 10 or higher have interviewed their parents and grandparents. Volunteers have interviewed people in their houses of worship, in colleges and universities and in local businesses.
In addition to oral history interviews, VHP also accepts original, personal letters, diaries,photographs and two-dimensional art. Stories of veterans from World War I through the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been sent in from every state across the country.
It’s simple. It’s inspiring. And it creates a lasting record of the service and sacrifice of America’s veterans in the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, the Library of Congress.
This Veteran’s Day, take 30-90 minutes to sit down with the veteran in your life, and interview him or her for the Veterans History Project. Complete the forms found in the Field Kit and send them, along with the interview or original materials, to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project via FedEx or UPS. Then check back online four to six months later to see a record of the interview on the VHP website, www.loc.gov/vets. Future generations of researchers, writers, filmmakers and the general public will be able to learn from his or her story.
Who’s the veteran in your life?
The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is a Congressionally mandated project that collects, preserves and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000.
For more information
More about VHP
Veterans History Project homepage
Learn more in person, including tips on conducting a VHP interview, at the Library of Congress Open House on Veterans Day.
Jason Steinhauer is a Program Specialist in the Office of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress