June 6, 2002 Veterans' Stories Celebrated at D-Day Anniversary Aboard U.S.S. Intrepid

Library of Congress Calls on Americans to Collect Oral Histories of All Veterans and Those Who Served Them Through Its Veterans History Project

Contact: Craig D'Ooge, 202-707-9189 (Library of Congress) | Jennifer Dart, 202-828-8817 or 703-201-3796 (Fleishman-Hillard)

Link to Veterans History Project Web Site

New York City (June 6, 2002) -- Hundreds of New York area veterans joined in a national call to action aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City to celebrate the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project. The Library of Congress, with the support of AARP, hosted this D-Day celebration to encourage all Americans to get involved in this historic undertaking.

Famed fighter pilot Lt. Col. Lee A. Archer, Jr. (Ret.) made remarks at the June 6 gathering, along with Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and AARP President James Parkel. Sam Billison, president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association and WWII vet, also participated in an oral history demonstration.

The Veterans History Project is a program 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 served America during wartime. The Library is collecting and preserving 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 home front. Congress created the project 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 Library of Congress is proud to serve as steward in preserving this national memory," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "More than 1,600 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 home front running during some of America's most difficult times. The Library is honored to add these eyewitness accounts of American history to the vast record we have preserved for more than 200 years."

AARP, the nation's leading organization for people 50 and over, is the project's founding private-sector sponsor. Together with 250 partner organizations that have agreed to participate in the project, AARP will mobilize its members and vast national network of 40,000 volunteers in the collection of stories to be told by average Americans whose heroic deeds and small wartime efforts preserved freedom. A newly produced video production about the project premiered at today's event and will be distributed to the 50 AARP state offices and partner organizations to help educate and instruct people on how to go about collecting these oral histories.

"In the months ahead, we plan to turn to our 35 million members to reach out to veterans whose stories have yet to be recorded," AARP President Jim Parkel said referring to the organization's founding private sector sponsorship. "We are in the process of creating a well-trained volunteer force to conduct proper oral history interviews with their parents, friends and even strangers. As we have done this D-Day in the great state of New York, we will continue to work with the Veterans History Project to develop public programs across the country that will allow veterans and those who served them to share their personal memories and experiences for all to hear."

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.

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 to serve their communities and offers a wide range of unique benefits, special products and services for members. These benefits include AARP Web place at www.aarp.org, 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.

For more information about the Veterans History Project, call (800) 315-8300 or visit the Web site at www.loc.gov/vets.


PR 02-vet
ISSN 0731-3527