May 21, 2004 Library of Congress Presents Memorial Day Special on Public Radio

"Lest We Forget" Honors the World War II Generation

Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940, Anneliesa Clump Behrend (202) 707-9822
Public Contact: (888) 371-5848

In honor of Memorial Day, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will present a one-hour special titled, "Lest We Forget." The program, drawn from the oral histories gathered by the American Folklife Center as part of its Veterans History Project, will be aired on and around May 31 on some 90 Public Radio International (PRI) affiliate stations around the country.

Check your local listings for the date and time of the airing of "Lest We Forget," which is made possible through the support of AARP, a major funder of the Veterans History Project.

Featuring stories and voices from the Veterans History Project collection, "Lest We Forget" shares the personal memoirs of World War II veterans who sacrificed their youth, lost their innocence, saw a larger world and survived unimaginable hardships to tell their stories.

"Lest We Forget" is the second program in the acclaimed Experiencing War series. Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland is host of this series, created and produced by Lee Woodman. The first program in the series, "Coming Home," garnered a Gracie Allen Award from American Women in Radio and Television for "superior quality in writing and production" in December 2003.

"This Memorial Day, the nation will pay tribute to the World War II generation. By participating in our Veterans History Project, these veterans - and all others who come forward to tell their story of service - help us preserve and add to our nation's collective memory," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

Host Max Cleland is an American war hero, a son of a World War II veteran and a champion of the human spirit. He is a veteran who lost both legs and his right arm in a grenade blast in Vietnam. He understands firsthand the emotional wounds of war and has become a powerful force in garnering support for U.S. war veterans and their stories.

World War II forced America to grow up quickly. A nation that was once "green" became seasoned at the art of war. Fresh-faced young men left home for the first time and witnessed atrocities that changed them forever.

Peter Rubino was with the first wave of allied troops that stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. "It looked like the Fourth of July; they were shooting up a storm. ... When I got to the hill, one young lieutenant says, 'fellas, we have two choices: we stay here and get killed or we run up the hill and get killed.' We decided to run up the hill."

Veterans from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War and the civilians who supported them are coming forward to record their personal stories for a growing archives in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The goal of the Veterans History Project is to collect, preserve and share with future generations the stories of all our war veterans, as well as those who supported them at home and in the field.

To learn more about the project and the stories it has collected so far, visit the VHP Web site at, where you will find digital interviews, wartime memorabilia and information about how to participate in the VHP.

Congress created the Veterans History Project with legislation sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Rep. Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). The project is developing the way Congress envisioned: with grandchildren interviewing grandparents; veterans interviewing each other; and students conducting interviews with neighbors as classroom assignments. The project is unusual in that it is one of the few nationwide oral history efforts relying on volunteers rather than professional oral historians to collect stories and artifacts.

Hundreds of organizations around the country are participating in the Veterans History Project. Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to e-mail the VHP at to request a project kit. The kit is also available on the Veterans History Project Web site at

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Library in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

PRI is a Minneapolis-based public radio network and audio publisher that supports and distributes programs, many of which are created by leading national producers and are broadcast by its 744 public radio station affiliates. PRI programming also is available on locally-branded public radio station Web sites, internationally through the World Radio Network and nationwide via Sirius Satellite Radio.


PR 04-110
ISSN 0731-3527