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There are 19 million war veterans living in the United States today, but every day we lose 1,700 of them. Motivated by a desire to honor our nation's war veterans for their service and to collect their stories and experiences while they are still among us, the U.S. Congress created the Veterans History Project.

[Journalist May Craig interviewing an unidentified soldier], ca. 1945. Prints and Photographs Division. Max Cleland standing, ca. 1965-68. From Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project.

The authorizing legislation, sponsored by Reps. Ron Kind, Amo Houghton and Steny Hoyer, and Sens. Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel, received unanimous support and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on Oct. 27, 2000. Public Law 106-380 calls on Veterans History Project in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to collect and preserve audio- and video-taped oral histories, along with documentary materials such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs and home movies, of America's war veterans and those who served in support of them.

The Veterans History Project focuses on World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945) and the Korean (1950-1955), Vietnam (1961-1975) and Persian Gulf (1990-1995) wars. It includes all participants in those wars -- men and women, civilian and military. It documents the contributions of civilian volunteers, support staff and war industry workers as well as the experiences of military personnel from all ranks and all branches of service -- the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. The project greatly values and appreciates veterans' stories from additional combat arenas and those received will be processed as resources allow.

Knowing that this and future generations of Americans have much to learn from those who served, the Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center have embraced this national effort. The collection comprises more than 14,000 veterans' histories and adds 500 more each month.

You can get the Project Kit online to participate in the Veterans History Project. You can also "See and Hear Veterans' Stories."

This May is a particularly appropriate time to participate in the project. Not only do we observe Memorial Day as we do every year, but the nation will be focused on the National Mall in Washington for the dedication of the National World War II Memorial and the National World War II Reunion.

The Veterans History Project is honored to be a part of the upcoming National World War II Reunion in Washington. Throughout the four-day event, the project plans to collect your wartime stories on-site and share compelling accounts from a variety of topics. Be sure to visit the Veterans History Project Pavilion to become a part of history again.

Visit the Veterans History Project Pavilion (near the Air & Space Museum on Jefferson Drive between Sixth and Seventh streets on the National Mall), May 27-30, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The schedule includes panel discussions on the "Home Front," "POWs," "D-Day," "Navajo Code Talkers," the "Japanese-American Experience," "Tuskegee Airmen" and a panel featuring Sen. John Warner and Adm. J.L. Holloway and another with former Rep. Sam Gibbons on D-Day. If you are planning to travel to Washington, be sure to visit the link to "Planning Your Visit to D.C."

 

A. [Journalist May Craig interviewing an unidentified soldier], ca. 1945. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-126009 (b&w film copy neg.); Call No.: LOT 13264-G, no. 19 [P&P]

B. Max Cleland standing, ca. 1965-68. From "Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project."


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