April 29, 2004
Anneliesa Clump Behrend (202) 707-9822
Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT
TO COLLECT VETERANS’ STORIES ON THE MALL, MAY 27-30
National World War II Reunion Gives All Who Served a Chance
to Tell Their Story
The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress will participate
in the National World War II Reunion on the National Mall in Washington during
Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30. The four-day event will include ceremonies
and activities produced by the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife
and Cultural Heritage and the American Battle Monuments Commission.
One of seven pavilions and two performance stages on the Mall during the Memorial
Day weekend, the Veterans History Project Pavilion (located near the National
Air and Space Museum) will collect memoirs and stories on-site from those who
experienced the war overseas and on the home front.
The National Reunion coincides with the American Battle Monuments Commission’s
dedication of the National World War II Memorial on Saturday, May 29. The dedication
ceremony and reunion honor the 16 million soldiers and sailors who served in
the U.S. armed forces during the war, the more than 400,000 who died and the
millions who supported the war effort from home.
The Veterans History Project invites all veterans and civilians who served
to visit the Veterans History Project Pavilion on the Mall during the weekend
and contribute their stories to the archives of veterans’ histories,
which is part of the Library’s American Folklife Center.
“Every veteran has a story to tell,” said Librarian of Congress James
H. Billington. “And the Library of Congress wants your wartime memories
to be part of this ever-growing national collection of oral histories, written
memoirs, letters and photographs.”
To participate, veterans, civilians who served in support of them and families
of veterans are asked to:
- Bring written memoirs, photos and letters from World War II to the Veterans
History Project Pavilion on the National Mall during the Reunion.
- Contribute wartime stories online, at www.loc.gov/vets,
or in person during the reunion to a Library of Congress/Veterans
History Project volunteer or at the VHP Pavilion.
- Visit the Veterans History Project Pavilion during
the reunion and learn how to interview a veteran or to share
In an unprecedented effort, the Library of Congress will collect
on-the-spot interviews from World War II veterans and civilians
who served in support of them during the four-day weekend. In
teams of two, Library of Congress staff will roam the National
Mall and record the wartime experiences of World War II veterans
and home front workers.
“The National World War II Reunion will be the largest-ever gathering of
World War II veterans,” said Diane Kresh, coordinator of the VHP volunteers
at the Library of Congress. “Our aim is to collect as many stories as possible
over the four-day period. These stories will find a permanent home in the archives
of the Veterans History Project along with the oral histories of veterans from
other wars already in our collection.”
In addition, more than 30 hours of panel discussions will take place at the
VHP Pavilion during the four days. Topics, times and participants are below.
Check the Web site at http://www.loc.gov/vets/wwii-home.html for complete details.
Former Prisoners of War: Richard Francies, Enso Bighinatti, Jimmie Kanaya and
Marty Higgins; 1 p.m. on May 27 and 11 a.m. on May 28
Reunion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 1st Battalion (“Lost
Battalion”) of the 141st Regiment of the 36th (Texas) Division; 2 p.m.
on May 27
Hispanic-American Experience During World War II: Frank Medina, Miguel Encinias
and Evelio Grillo; 1 p.m. on May 30
Japanese-American Experience During World War II: Warren Tsuneishi, Jimmie
Kanaya, Marty Higgins and Frank Sogi; 4 p.m. on May 28
Navajo Code Talkers: Sam Billison, Sam Smith, Keith Little; 3:15 p.m. on May
27 and noon on May 30
Tuskegee Airmen: Lee Archer, Charles McGee and Thomas Lowery; 2 p.m. on May
28 and 2 p.m. on May 30
D-Day Veterans: Sam Gibbons, Tracy Sugarman, Bob Powell; 11 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
on May 27
Women in the Military: Maj. Gen. Jeanne Holm, Miriam Ownby, Martha Putney,
Elizabeth Splaine, Ruth Erno; 1 p.m. on May 28
Red Cross in WWII: Ruth Belew, Helen Colony, Mary O’Driscoll; 4:15 p.m.
on May 27
Women in Military Medicine: Maj. Jennifer Petersen, Anna Busby, Marian Elcano,
and Martha Leierer; 11 a.m. on May 30
Memories From the Home Front: Marion Gurfein, Helen Sudyk, Venus Ramey (Miss
America 1944); noon on May 27
Other WWII Veterans: Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), Adm. J. L. Holloway, Robert
Bloxsom, Jerry Brenner, Joseph DeLuca; 5:15 p.m. on May 27, 3 p.m. on May 28,
and 4 p.m. on May 29
In October 2000, the U.S. Congress signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Ron
Kind (D-Wis.), Rep. Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Sen. Max
Cleland (D-Ga.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to create the Veterans History
Project to collect and preserve the wartime memories of veterans and those
who served in support of them during World War I, World War II, and the Korean,
Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.
In three years the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has
collected more than 70,000 items from some 15,000 individual submissions. The
Veterans History Project— through the volunteer efforts of hundreds of
organizations and thousands of individuals around the country—has become
one of the largest national repositories of firsthand accounts of war. 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.
AARP is the national corporate founding partner.
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 benefits, special products
and services for its members.
To learn more about the Veterans History Project, to submit your story online,
or to view a schedule of panel presentations and other reunion activities scheduled
over the four-day weekend, visit http://www.loc.gov/vets/wwii-home.html.
Additional information about the National Reunion weekend can be found on
the Web at http://www.folklife.si.edu/, http://www.wwiimemorial.com, http://www.abmc.gov/ and http://www.washington.org/americacelebrates.
Note: For biographical information on the veterans speaking in
the Veterans History Project Pavilion and to speak with veterans
from the Veterans History Project, contact (202) 707-9822.
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