Memorial Day and Our Oldest Vets

Veterans History Project and World War ISorry about the ?radio silence? for much of the past few days ? it’s a function of the slam-bang schedule we?ve been having. I simply could not, however, merely drift into Memorial Day without writing this post.

I’m as excited as anyone that this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in the United States. But as we all know, there is a much more serious purpose behind the celebration.

Memorial Day is a time of backyard barbecues, but it is also a time to reflect on the true meaning of the phrase “all gave some; some gave all.”

The Veterans History Project, a program of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center, has been collecting tens of thousands of oral histories and materials recounting the experiences of veterans in wartime. For perhaps obvious reasons, the smallest collection among the wars on which VHP focuses is World War I. But regardless of whether a veteran is still alive or able to provide a firsthand oral history, VHP is also interested in other sources such as diaries and photos.

This is one reason why VHP has launched a new Web site call “Experiencing War: World War I, the Great War.” (link here)

From the news release:

“Because we’ve lost all but a handful of WWI veterans, it?s no longer possible to obtain oral history interviews,” says (VHP Director Bob) Patrick.”?We’re relying on the generosity of relatives and friends of deceased veterans to donate written accounts in letters, diaries and memoirs, as well as precious collections of photographs.”

A happy, safe and solemn Memorial Day to everyone!


  1. Justin Thorp
    May 25, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Wow! The audio, video, written stories of the veterans are really powerful. Listening to them help to put Memorial Day in perspective.

  2. egorych
    June 1, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    I agree with Justin Thorp. I enjoy it too.

  3. Sophie Salmon
    July 9, 2007 at 3:32 am

    I have always held in high regard those who fought during the war. Imagine having to leave your family, eat food that you are not accustomed to eating, fight for your country’s honor, see your comrades get injured or die around you, not knowing whether you will be able to make it out alive. It’s such a big sacrifice. The “Veterans History Project” is really a good way to commemorate the people who were willing to put their lives on the line just for us. The drawings, painstakingly hand-painted, sketched, and drawn, were really touching. Thank you for sharing this.

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