The Library of Congress > Wise Guide > December 2009 > Willing to Serve
Willing to Serve

Joseph Beimfohr enlisted in the Army two days after his 17th birthday; his grandmother, who raised him, signed his enlistment paperwork. He went to Iraq in January 2005, and his unit was tasked to clear travel routes that were polluted with improvised explosive devices (IED) and to search households for weapons. In July of that year, Beimfohr and his men had just disarmed an IED when a second explosion ripped into him. He lost both legs, but he did not lose his sense of pride in his work and his determination to persevere.

Fort Riley, Kansas, 2-34th Armor Battalion. 2005. Veterans History Project. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction. Quileutes unloading canoes on beach at La Push, Washington. Ca. 1900. University of Washington Libraries. Reproduction Information. []

The Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center spotlights his story and other interviews of Native Americans in "Willing to Serve: American Indians," a website feature that comprises nine first-person accounts of those who volunteered to serve during conflicts from World War II to Iraq.

The Veterans History Project was created in 2000 by Congress as a national documentation program of the American Folklife Center to record, preserve and make accessible the firsthand 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. Approximately 66,000 individual stories comprise the collection to date.

For those that are “Team Jacob,” from the Twilight Saga books by Stephenie Meyer, his tribe of Quileute Indians is one represented in the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest presentation.

They, along with tribes from the Southwest, Great Basin, Great Plains, Plateau region, Alaska and California are also featured in a photographic presentation titled “Edward S. Curtis’ The North American Indian.” Curtis was an internationally known authority on the history of the North American Indian.