May 20, 2003
Press contacts: Anneliesa Clump (703) 470-4275; Helen Dalrymple
Public contact: (888) 371-5848
Veterans' Stories Online for Memorial Day
On Memorial Day, 21 personal stories of American veterans come
This Memorial Day, May 26, 21 fully digitized collections of
materials submitted by veterans and civilians will be available
for the first time on the Library of Congress Web site at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
The Library of Congress' Veterans History Project at the American
Folklife Center collects and preserves oral histories and documentary
materials about America's war veterans from World War I, World
War II and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, as well
as from the civilians who served on the home front.
"The Veterans History Project gives all veterans the opportunity
to speak openly and freely about their wartime experiences. We
think it a fitting tribute on this Memorial Day, that Americans
across the nation can go to the Library's Web site and experience
firsthand such an important piece of our national memory. Every
veteran has his or her own war, and each is custodian of a unique
story and memories," said Librarian of Congress James H.
The digitized materials are part of a larger effort by the Library
to make its collections accessible online so that more people
can take advantage of the rich materials at the Library. This
initial presentation of personal narratives will be followed by
many more culled from the 7,000 submissions the Veterans History
Project has received to date.
These poignant stories cover the themes of "courage, patriotism
and community" and include the story of Violet Hill Gordon,
who enlisted during World War II with her best friend, Mildred
Osby, to join the Women's Auxiliary Army. Gordon, an African American,
entered the segregated Army and was eventually promoted to commanding
officer in the 6888th Central Postal Directory.
John W. Earle served four years as Special Services Officer in
the 14th Infantry, 71st Division of the Army. Earle kept up a
lengthy correspondence with his mother, grandmother and other
members of his family. His letters-readable online-regale us with
his extraordinary efforts to provide entertainment and treats
for the troops in service.
Other veterans featured on the site include: Corbin B. Willis,
Jr.; Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.); William Valentine Loncaric; Sen.
Max Cleland (D-Ga.); William Jennings Arnett; Bruce Donald Fenchel;
Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.); Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.); James Walsh;
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.); Isabelle Cook; Rep. Benjamin Gilman
(R-N.Y.); Ben M. Snyder; Patricia Seawalt; Patricia Lala; Sally
Hitchcock Pullman; John Casper Wister; and Rep. Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.).
Since the program began, the Veterans History Project has attracted
more than 670 national and local partners representing the military
community, veterans, civic groups, cultural and historic organizations
and educational institutions. The principal private sector sponsor
Congress created the project through legislation sponsored by
Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Houghton and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
on the House side, and Cleland and Hagel in the Senate. The project
is one of the few nationwide oral history efforts that relies
on volunteers rather than professional oral historians to collect
stories and artifacts.
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was created
by Congress in 1976 to "preserve and present American folklife"
through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation,
reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs
and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture,
which was established by the Library in 1928 and is now one of
the largest collections of ethnographic materials from the United
States and around the world.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated
to making life better for people 50 and over. It provides information
and resources; engages in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy;
assists members in serving their communities; and offers a wide
range of unique benefits, special products, and services for its