Upton urges families to use holidays to connect with veterans

Published 11:24 am Saturday, December 24, 2005

By Staff
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), the son of a World War II veteran, highlighted the holidays as an ideal time for veterans and their families to participate in the Veterans History Project. The Library of Congress and its American Folklife Center are asking all Americans to join in the creation of a national collection by interviewing war veterans using sound or video recording equipment, by asking them to write their memoirs, or by collecting wartime letters, diaries, and photographs.
"There is no better way to honor and give thanks to our war veterans than to have their personal experiences recorded as part of the permanent historical record of our nation," said Upton. "There are 19 million war veterans living in the United States today, but every day we lose 1,700 of them. To put that into perspective, only 40,000 veterans have recorded their experiences to date. As a nation we lose a valuable part of history as our veterans pass away. The holidays are a perfect opportunity for families to come together and record the experiences of their loved ones who served in combat."
Motivated by a desire to honor our nation's war veterans for their service and to collect their stories and experiences while they are still among us, the United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000. The collection will capture the experience of all participants-men and women, civilian and military-who participated in World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf wars.
"As we gather with friends and family this Christmas, let us take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice given by the servicemen and women of the past," said Upton. "Let us also give thanks and pray for the safety of the men and women who serve us on the front lines today, so that future generations of Americans will enjoy the same liberties. Freedom does not come without a price. We may sometimes take for granted the many liberties we enjoy in America, but they have all been earned through the ultimate sacrifice paid by so many of the members of our armed forces."
Upton continued, "I believe that this generation and future generations have much to learn from those who served. If you are a veteran, you possess a valuable resource through your war memories and military knowledge, and I especially encourage you to participate as both an interviewer and an interviewee."
Interviewers may be veterans comparing their experiences with fellow veterans who fought in previous wars. They may be students talking with veterans and home front supporters within their local communities as part of school projects. They may be grandsons and granddaughters coaxing grandparents to share their memories of America at war. The Veterans History Project participated in the historic National World War II Reunion in Washington during Memorial Day weekend last May. The Library of Congress collected nearly 3,000 on-the-spot interviews
Instructions and guidelines to participate in the Veterans History Project are available at the Library of Congress' Web site, www.loc.gov/folklife/vets, or by calling the project message line at 1-888-371-5848.
Upton's Web site, www.house.gov/upton, also links directly to the Veterans History Project.