The Importance of Remembering Veterans’ Stories



BY MEGAN TAYLOR

To this day, I always love hearing my grandfather’s military stories. Enlisting in the Army/Air Force during World War II, my grandfather served in Europe. While flying over Italy, my grandfather’s plane was shot down by the Germans. He and his fellow soldiers had to parachute out of the plane and keep hidden since they were behind enemy lines. To help keep the soldiers safe, an Italian family took my grandfather and two others into hiding until the end of the war. The other men landed in a different area and were taken prisoner. Up until the day he passed away, my grandfather stayed in touch with the Italian family. The reason I love this story, other than the fact that it is about my grandfather, is that it shows the courage and bravery many men and women have when serving our country. All veterans have a story about their time in the military, and it is important to make sure those stories are heard, remembered, and passed down from generation to generation. These tales are also part of our nation’s history. If you have a veteran in your life, take the time to listen and record their story. Here are some ideas on how to do just that.

  1. First, start with interviewing your veteran. Begin with the basic questions about their military experience. Sometimes just these questions can be valuable information and lead to deeper conversations. Also, ask if the veteran has any memorable or funny stories, met any important people, or kept any items from their time.
  2. After interviewing your veteran and getting the facts about their military experience, create something nice to hold the story. Scrapbooks are a great way to record the information. Type up or write the interview and place in the scrapbook. Then, add any available pictures or items from the veteran’s time in the military. For example, they may have an image of the veteran in their uniform for you to add. Any keepsakes you can find will quickly become treasures for future generations.
  3. Another option would be to create an audio recording of the veteran telling their experience. Through this narration, loved ones will be able to hear the veteran’s voice speaking about their time in their own words. Just be careful and make sure you document the audio on a trustworthy and stable device that your family will be able to keep for many years to come. Also, store the audio in a fire safe box.
  4. Since we are in the digital age, share the memoir with others through email. You may be like me and save emails that are special so you can easily refer back to them. When archiving the information, type it into an email and send it to you and your loved ones. This option is an easy way to share the veteran’s story with many people. However, it is also important to always have a hard copy of the recollections.
  5. Lastly, the Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress is a great opportunity to record and save your veteran’s memories for the entire country to read. The Project was created in 2000 by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. According to the Veterans History Project’s website, its purpose is to “collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.” Veterans’ personal narratives, correspondences, and visual materials are all accepted to the Project. For more information on how to submit your veteran’s story, visit loc.gov/vets/vets-home.

Writing down a veteran’s story can be memorable and valuable for your loved ones. The veteran will always hold a special place in your family’s life, so why not remember their sacrifice for our country and treasure their military experience? These tales are just a little bit of our nation’s history that will be worth treasuring for years and years.

 


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