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Community Events and Other Ways to Gather Veterans' Narratives

The Library of Congress's Veterans History Project is committed to honoring veterans and collecting their stories. Commemorative dates can provide opportunities throughout the year to plan activities to honor veterans, spotlight your organization, and build the Veterans History Project collection of stories of veterans and others who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, and the Iraq-Afghanistan conflicts. Below are some ideas as to how you can engage your community to participate in the Project.

Everyday ideas on how you can record veterans' stories

  • Interview veterans at your next family reunion.
  • Interview mothers, fathers and grandparents on their days of honor.
  • Gather wartime love letters, photo collections, memoirs and journals.
  • Interview military spouses on their day of honor.
  • Visit retirement communities, senior centers and/or VA hospitals and conduct interviews.

Special ways to honor veterans

  • Create an honor roll of all the veterans from your town and display it in the Town Hall.
  • Conduct a Hometown Veterans Census and publish the list in your local paper and create a poster for distribution.
  • Organize speakers in observance of various commemoration months and days.
  • Host a USO-theme concert and invite veterans and their families.
  • Link your Web site to the Veterans History Project Web site to spotlight participants from your community.

Involve your local library

  • Schedule a film at your library and ask a veteran to introduce the film and discuss wartime experiences.
  • Create exhibits of books or posters related to a particular war.
  • Invite a veteran or individual who served on the home front to speak about his or her war experiences and display their memorabilia.
  • Use archives to research local wartime activities to identify hometown veterans and others who served in support of the war effort.

Engage your community

  • Work with local and national politicians to issue proclamations on commemoration dates or to declare a "Day of Recognition" for a veterans' group or for others who served in support of the war effort.
  • Plan joint projects with VHP Official Partners in your area (list available on VHP Web site).
  • Contact area AARP, American Red Cross and other organizations in your community to explore veterans-related volunteer opportunities.
  • Plan a Veterans Appreciation Day on a commemoration date and invite veterans to breakfast at a school, library or community center.
  • Establish a new, or contact an existing volunteer network to conduct Veterans History Project interviews.
  • Plan a Veterans Open House in your organization.
  • Schedule Veterans History Project interview days at veterans' organizations meeting sites.
  • Encourage your state's veterans associations, libraries, museums, historic sites and civic groups to participate with the Veterans History Project.
  • Contact local military bases for program speakers or to link to veterans who visit the base.
  • Contact local industries to determine their involvement in past war effort. Interview employees who worked during wartime.
  • Enlist as VHP volunteer interviewers the members of retired teachers or public service employee organizations.
  • Plant a tree or create a garden to honor veterans or others who served. Use the occasion to recruit other volunteer interviewers.
  • Create a Canteen Evening or M.A.S.H. theme party to launch or highlight your Veterans History Project activities.

Have the media help promote your work

  • Issue periodic press releases about your VHP-related activities.
  • Write a letter to the editor on the occasion of a commemoration date.
  • Contact your public access TV and radio stations to plan veterans-related programs, place public service announcements (PSAs) and interview veterans on radio or TV to raise awareness of the Veterans History Project.
  • Broadcast the 5-minute VHP introductory videotape and tell viewers how they can participate in the Project.
  • Feature a particular veteran or a veterans organization in a newsletter or local paper.
  • Write Op-Eds in observance of commemoration dates.

Engage and educate youth

  • Contact schools to include volunteer work with Veterans History Project in their listings of options for community service/service learning for students.
  • Invite former POWs and veterans as classroom speakers on commemoration dates. Interview the veteran following the presentation.
  • Engage JROTC programs and military schools in collecting veterans' stories.
  • Contact community colleges and universities to involve history, communications and/or english departments or oral history programs in the Veterans History Project.

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  August 31, 2020
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