Recording veterans voices and stories

Thursday, April 11, 2019

History is the sum of individual stories, and volunteers in Marshall County are pushing to make sure that the stories of the county’s veterans are preserved.

Local Iraq veteran Larry McKnight said that he realized, when the Veteran’s Outreach group was organizing a homecoming for county Vietnam veterans, that 165 of those veterans had died since the end of that conflict already, that something had to be done to collect veteran’s stories at danger of being lost forever.

The Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project was already in place to preserve those stories.

The Veterans History Project was authorized by Congress in 2000 and since then thousands of interviews and collections have been cataloged by the Library of Congress for preservation and research.

Their goal is to “preserve, collect, and make accessible the personal accounts of America’s wartime veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand their selfless service.”

The Library of Congress currently receives between 75 and 100 interviews or collections per week in the ongoing project.

Jean Hart Griffin has been conducting most of the interviews locally.

She said that she had completed 11 interviews so far, and had another 11 already scheduled.

Interviews are recorded and then transferred to DVD. Suggested length is between 30 and 90 minutes.

She said that she had a trip planned for June to visit the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. to present the completed interviews in person.

Copies of the interview, in addition to the archives in Washington, will be presented to the veteran, as well as being preserved in the Marshall County Memorial Library and the Marshall County Historical Society.

Any service member is eligible to participate, although priority will be given to veterans of World War II or Korea, due to age.

The Library of Congress will also accept original collections of letters, photos, or other documents as part of the collection.

Griffin said that the project has been so interesting that she is considering doing her own local project, interviewing those on the home front during times of war in order to record their stories as well.

Veterans interested in participating can contact Griffin at 931-637-0545 or McKnight at 931-808-0676.