By AUDREY FISCHER
D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams issued a proclamation naming May 2005 "Veterans History Project Month," and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority donated public service advertising space on its bus and rail system to promote the Veterans History Project during the month. The mayor's proclamation and the design for the advertising campaign were unveiled at a ceremony held at the Library on April 29.
"This is an exciting and important time for our nation's veterans and the Veterans History Project," observed Diane Kresh, director of the project. "During this month, the nation will celebrate the 60th anniversary of VE/VJ Day, which marked the end of World War II, and the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, marking the end of the Vietnam War. Commemorative events will bring thousands of veterans and their families to the nation's capital this month, and we want their stories."
"We believe a partnership with the city and its mass transportation system will assist us greatly in obtaining veterans' stories during these commemorative activities," said Debra Murphy, a program manager for the Veterans History Project.
"The District of Columbia is proud to lead the effort to promote this monumental project to honor our nation's veterans," said Kerwin Miller, director of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs. Miller, a former officer in the U.S. Navy, was introduced as "the newest friend of the Veterans History Project," by project director Diane Kresh.
"I thank our local transportation officials for recognizing the importance of using our transportation system to educate our residents and visitors to our city of the need to have all veterans and their families participate in this project by interviewing local veterans and submitting these oral interviews to the Veterans History Project for preservation," said Miller, who challenged other state and city transportation agencies to promote the Veterans History Project during Veterans History Project Month.
Debbe King of the Marketing Department for LYNX Bus Co., the Central Florida Transit System, was the driving force behind the company's dedication of a fully painted bus honoring military men and women. The bus, which also promoted the Veterans History Project, toured the country for one year and made a stop at the Library last Veterans Day. At that time, King challenged the nation's capital to follow suit. For four consecutive years, King, who retired from the U.S. Navy, has come up with a theme to honor veterans on LYNX buses.
"My supervisor cringes when I say, 'I have an idea,'" joked King, who was presented with an award from the Library of Congress for her role as a "catalyst" in the public service advertising campaign. "She's concerned that it will cost money, but I tell her not to worry about that."
"When one person has an inspirational idea it reverberates, like dropping a pebble in a pond," observed retired Army Gen. Donald Scott, Deputy Librarian, who thanked King and the city's elected officials for "using their power and influence to declare the importance of military service."
"The LYNX Bus Company has provided extraordinary leadership and support to the Veterans History Project," said Murphy, as she presented a Certificate of Appreciation to King. "It not only donated the bus, but it also donated the design of the bus, which will be used in the Washington Metro campaign, and, hopefully, on bus and rail systems throughout the nation."
The design will appear inside 200 Metro buses, on the tail light of 20 buses, and on a display in five Metro rail stations throughout the Washington metropolitan area. To further extend the public service campaign, Murphy is working with the American Public Transit Association to promote the Veterans History Project on the nation's mass transit systems.
On hand for the event was a group of veterans, who were honored by Miller on behalf of the mayor for their distinguished military service. They included Marie Tucker, a former Navy WAVE (World War I), whose image appears on the bus design; Wesley A. Brown, a retired Navy Commander, who was the first African American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (class of 1949); James Pryde Sr., one of the original Tuskegee Airmen (World War II); and Ret. Army Col. Vance Shaw, who served in Vietnam. Also in attendance were representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the office of Rep. Corinne Brown (D-Fla.), who represents the district where the LYNX Bus Co. is located.
Miller also acknowledged Yeiichi Kuwayama, a Japanese-American World War II veteran, who served in the Army's segregated (all Japanese-American) 442nd Regimental Combat team—the most decorated unit in history. Kuwayama received the Silver Star medal, the Purple Heart and the Croce de Guerra.
"Their military stories are compelling legacies that represent a great tradition of achievement and courage," said Miller. "During this campaign, we urge District residents to interview local veterans and submit those oral and written interviews to the Veterans History Project for preservation."
"I thank the Library of Congress for establishing the National Veterans History collection as a repository for all of the materials collected as part of the Veterans History Project," said Miller.
I also thank the Veterans History Project staff, who will ensure that these military legacies are collected and maintained into perpetuity."
Audrey Fischer is a public affairs specialist in the Library's Public Affairs Office.