May 20, 2004
Anneliesa Clump Behrend (202) 707-9822
Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT
HIGHLIGHTS D-DAY EXPERIENCES
“D-Day Stories” Goes Online
May 20 to Honor 60th Anniversary
A new installment of 21 digitized collections of materials
submitted by veterans and civilians who were involved with D-Day
will be available on the Library of Congress Web site on May
20 at http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/. A total of 348 individual wartime memories
are now available online.
This fourth set of personal stories comprising interviews, letters, photographs
and written memoirs is part of a Web presentation titled “Experiencing
War: Stories from the Veterans History Project.” They join the growing
online collections from the American Folklife Center’s Veterans History
Project on themes that include “Courage,” “Life-Altering Experiences,” “Family
Ties” and “Patriotism.”
The personal narratives focus on three topics: experiences during the June 6,
1944, D-Day landing of American and British troops in Normandy, France, called “On
the Beach”; efforts in support of the battle, “Beyond the Beach”;
and struggles in the days that followed, “D-Day Plus 1, D-Day Plus 2….” The
digitized materials are part of the continuing effort by the Library to make
its collections accessible online. Additional materials will be made available
online in the future.
“We encourage everyone to visit the Veterans History Project online to
learn more about D-Day and, in honor of the 60th anniversary, to ask a veteran
or civilian supporter, ‘What did you do during the war?’” said
Diane Nester Kresh, director of the Library’s Public Service Collections
One of the veterans featured on the new section of the “Experiencing War” online
presentation, Claud Woodring, was supposed to be among the first soldiers to
land on the beach on D-Day to demolish barbed wire so that the troops could advance
unimpeded. But he found himself swimming to the beach when his boat hit a mine
several hundred yards from shore. Despite horrific casualty rates, Woodring and
his men achieved their objective, only to face a new challenge: fighting the
Germans amid the hedgerows of Normandy. His vivid descriptions of the horrors
on the beach that day are a prelude to his account of chasing the retreating
German army through France.
At the age of 7, Robert Powell, now of Metamora, Ohio, was taken for a ride up
into the clouds by a barnstorming pilot, and he was hooked on flying from then
on. In wartime Europe, he flew escort missions for bombers, but his favorite
job was the most dangerous one: strafing ground positions. He was in his element
on D-Day and during the first weeks of the invasion, helping to distract the
enemy and provide cover for Allied troops. Powell walked away from one plane
crash so horrible that his buddies were sure he had died. Since his retirement,
Powell has been documenting the history of his squadron.
Arriving on Omaha Beach on June 8, D-Day Plus 2, had its own dangers for John
Sudyk of Huntsburg, Ohio. For starters, the water was thick with jellyfish, and
the boat nearly hit a mine. “We were the most forward element in that sector
of Normandy,” recalls Sudyk. That also meant that he and his men offered
a more inviting target as they disembarked. His battalion soon found itself working
with General Patton’s Third Army, which saw action in nearly every major
engagement in the last 11 months of the war in Europe. In the final portion of
his interview tape, Sudyk’s wife, Helen, contributes her home front memories
of working in a defense plant.
The Library’s Veterans History Project will participate in the National
World War II Reunion on the National Mall in Washington during Memorial Day weekend,
May 27-30. The National World War II Reunion is produced by the Smithsonian 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.
During the National WWII Reunion, former Rep. Sam Gibbons of Tampa, Fla., will
share his experience from D-Day in the Veterans History Project Pavilion at 11
a.m. on May 27. Bob Powell of Atlanta, Tracy Sugarman of Westport, Conn., and
Brig. Gen. Alvin D. Ungerleider of Burke, Va., will participate in a panel discussion
on D-Day in the Veterans History Project Pavilion, at 2:15 p.m. on May 27.
Veterans from World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian
Gulf wars, and the civilians who supported them, are coming forward to record
their personal stories and contribute personal documents for a growing archives
at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The goal is to collect,
preserve and share with future generations the stories of all American war veterans.
Authorized by legislation passed in 2000, the project is being carried out in
the way that Congress envisioned: with grandchildren interviewing grandparents,
veterans interviewing each other, and students conducting interviews as part
of classroom assignments. This program is a nationwide oral history and documentation
effort that relies on volunteers rather than professional oral historians to
collect stories and artifacts. AARP is the founding sponsor of the project, with
more than 1,000 other organizations also participating.
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was created in 1976 to
document, preserve and present all aspects of traditional culture and life in
America. With more than 2 million items, it maintains the largest repository
of traditional cultural documentation in the United States.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making
life better for older Americans.
Veterans History Project kits are available on the VHP Web site at http://www.loc.gov/vets/ or
by calling the toll-free
message line at (888) 371-5848.
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