The Veterans History Project (VHP) in the Library of Congress celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2010. (See Information Bulletin, January/February 2010.) A new feature on the project’s Experiencing War website marks the occasion.
Launched in advance of nationwide Veterans Day observances, “VHP: The First Ten Years” highlights the wartime stories of 20 veterans who represent a cross-section of the more than 70,000 collections donated to the project during its first decade of existence.
VHP staff members selected these collections from among their favorites and as representative of the diversity and depth of the project. Some of the veterans have been featured in previous installments of Experiencing War, while others will be new to users of the site, www.loc.gov/vets/.
“Our theme for this commemorative season has been ‘Illuminating the Future by Sharing the Past,’” said VHP Director Robert Patrick. “This latest web feature does just that. It shows the realities of war from 20 diverse and captivating perspectives so that people, generations from now, will be able to hear, see, and learn from these firsthand accounts.”
Each veteran in “VHP: The First Ten Years” describes the wartime veteran experience in ways that are thoughtful, touching, and often riveting. Spotlighted in the feature is Vietnam Army nurse Elizabeth Allen, an African-American woman who discusses her experiences, unique due to both race and gender. Frank Buckles, the last surviving World War I veteran, shares his experiences in the feature as an Army ambulance driver. Marine Corps veteran Paul Steppe served during the Korean War and conveys his tale of survival after being wounded and then having his medical transport plane lose its landing gear upon takeoff. Herman Rosen was a Merchant Marine during World War II who spent 23 days in a lifeboat at sea after his ship was hit by a torpedo. Persian Gulf War Medical Officer Rhonda Cornum, on a mission to rescue a downed pilot, was captured by the Iraqis and held for seven harrowing days.
Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 as a national documentation program of the American Folklife Center to record, preserve and make accessible the first-hand remembrances of American wartime veterans from World War I through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
The project relies on volunteers to record veterans’ remembrances using guidelines accessible at www.loc.gov/vets/. Volunteer interviewers may pledge to record a veteran’s story at the site, or they may request more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news at www.loc.gov/rss/.