November 8, 2001 Librarian of Congress Inaugurates Council To Lead Veterans History Project

First National Collection of Veterans' Personal Accounts

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189; Debbie Drucker, Fleishman-Hillard (202) 828-8872

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced the leadership and founding private sector sponsor for the Veterans History Project, a program that was established by Congress last year to record the first person accounts of those who defended the country during wartime. The Librarian said that AARP, the nation's leading organization for people 50 and over, has agreed to become the project's founding private sector sponsor. The Librarian also announced the names of more than 100 partner organizations that have agreed to participate in the project.

Leadership and counsel for the project will be provided by the Five-Star Council, a group of prominent leaders -- veterans, elected officials, historians and journalists -- each with a relevant personal connection to this endeavor. Members include: Former U.S. House of Representatives Republican Leader Bob Michel, Retired Lt. General Julius Becton, AARP Executive Director William Novelli, Retired Major General USAF Jeanne Holm, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi, former Rep. Sam Gibbons, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Lee Archer, Tony Hope, son of USO entertainers Bob and Dolores Hope, Sen. John Kerry, Author Steven Ambrose, and NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw. (See attached list for complete membership.)

"The Library of Congress is proud to have these distinguished people and organizations as valuable partners in the Veterans History Project," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "More than 1,500 World War II veterans are dying each day, so there is an urgent need to collect their stories and experiences. This project will also allow the next generation to learn about and speak to those who have fought to sustain the freedom that we find challenged throughout the world today, as well as those who kept the homefront running during some of America's most difficult times. The Library is honored to add these eye- witness accounts of American history to the vast record we have preserved for more than 200 years."

The Veterans History Project is a project of the Library of Congress through its American Folklife Center designed to encourage Americans of all ages to collect the first-person accounts of those who defended American during wartime. The Library will collect and preserve oral histories and documentary materials from veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf Wars and stories from the homefront. The project was created by Congress late last year in legislation sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind, Rep. Amo Houghton, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Sen. Max Cleland and Sen.Chuck Hagel. The legislation passed unanimously, and was signed into law by President Clinton on October 27, 2000. (P.L. 106-380). The project receives and archives video- and audio-taped and written accounts, as well as letters, diaries and photographs from war veterans and civilians who served to support them.

"In the months ahead, we plan to turn to our 35 million members to find veterans whose stories have yet to be recorded," AARP President Tess Canja said referring to the organization's founding private sector sponsorship. "We also will create a well-trained volunteer force to conduct proper oral history interviews with their parents, friends and even strangers. We also look forward to working with the Veterans History Project to develop public programs across the country that will allow veterans to share their experiences in uniform with new and vast audiences."

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people 50 and over. It provides information and resources; advocates on legislative, consumer, and legal issues; assists members in serving their communities; and offers a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for members. These benefits include AARP Web place at, Modern Maturity and My Generation magazines, and the monthly AARP Bulletin. Active in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP celebrates the attitude that age is just a number and life is what you make it.

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library and the national library of the United States. The Library was founded in 1800, making it the oldest federal cultural institution in the nation. The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its vast holdings available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and human creativity for future generations.

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 two million items, it maintains the largest repository of traditional cultural documentation in the United States. The National Veterans History Collection preserved at the American Folklife Center will richly complement the Library's existing holdings on this subject of enduring importance.

For additional information about the Veteran's History Project, visit the Web site at


The Honorable Everett Alvarez, Jr., Former Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Stephen Ambrose, Author and Historian
Lt. Colonel Lee A. Archer, Jr. (Ret.); CEO, Archer Assets Management
Lt. General Julius W. Becton (Ret.)
Tom Brokaw, Network News Anchor
The Honorable Max Cleland, U.S. Senator
Walter Cronkite, Former CBS Anchorman
Senator Robert Dole, Former U.S. Senator; National Chairman, World War II Memorial Commission
The Honorable Sam Gibbons, Former U.S. Representative
The Honorable Chuck Hagel, U.S. Senator
Major General USAF Jeanne Holm (Ret.)
Dolores Hope, USO Tours
The Honorable Amo Houghton, U.S. Representative
The Honorable Steny Hoyer, U.S. Representative
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Senator
Francisco F. Ivarra, Executive Director, American GI Forum
The Honorable John Kerry, U.S. Senator
The Honorable Ron Kind, U.S. Representative
The Honorable Robert H. Michel, Former U.S. Representative
The Honorable Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation
Bill Novelli, CEO, AARP
The Honorable Anthony J. Principi, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Francis Sogi, Chairman, National Japanese-American Monument Foundation
The Honorable Ted Stevens, U.S. Senator
The Honorable John Warner, U.S. Senator
The Honorable Sheila Widnall, Former Secretary of the Air Force


PR 01-170
ISSN 0731-3527