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Making Veterans Day a Meaningful One

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This post was written by Lisa Taylor, VHP Liaison Specialist. A version of this blog post is also running on the Library of Congress blog today.

Millions of Americans across the country observe Veterans Day every November 11th. What originated as Armistice Day 95 years ago is a holiday dedicated to veterans of all wars–a way to remember and thank them for their bravery and sacrifice. The way in which people chose to mark the day runs the gamut from indifference to full-on involvement. Some will simply sleep in, and then catch a good a sale at the mall. A few may be thoughtful enough to thank a veteran for his or her service, but only if they happen to bump into one at the mall. Others may take the time to phone a loved one who served, just to let them know they are being thought of. Still, others may visit the gravesite of a service member to pay their respects. It’s a federal holiday, but no one can mandate or judge how you spend the day. However, the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) has one suggestion that I’d like to pass on to you: make Veterans Day meaningful.

How can you make it meaningful? By volunteering to record the story of the military veteran in your life and submitting it to the Library of Congress, where it will be preserved for generations to come. Participating in this effort on Veterans Day will make it meaningful, not only for you, but also for the veteran.

Color photo of VHP interview with two individuals seated in chairs/sofa, camera and tissues.
Amie Pleasant interviewing Vietnam veteran Peter Young. Photograph by Christy Chason.

Established by the U.S. Congress in 2000, VHP’s mandate is to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand recollections of America’s wartime veterans. Through a network of volunteers from across the country, VHP has collected more than 95,000 stories and added them to a searchable online database found on VHP’s website. Of these collections, more than 16,000 have been digitized and made fully accessible on the site.

Participation is easy. All you need is you–the volunteer interviewer, a veteran willing to be interviewed, a recording device and a few forms found in VHP’s instructional field kit. Everyone, from 10th grade students to senior citizens, is welcome to volunteer.

Individuals are not the only ones conducting VHP interviews. Local businesses, libraries, houses of worship, Scout troops, universities, retirement communities and congressional offices participate as well. Here is a look at how some groups are making Veterans Day meaningful this year.

  • The Veterans History Project is hosting its annual Take Your Veteran to Work Day for all Library of Congress staff.
  • The National Court Reporters Foundation and the National Court Reporters Association are encouraging their membership to interview the veterans in their lives for VHP.
  • The VA Center for Minority Veterans launched a new VHP Initiative, which will inspire VHP participation at all 300 locations.
  • Rep. Donna Edwards (MD-4) hosted “Vets Count Day of Service” in Fort Washington, MD.
  • The Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts at Historic Flushing Town Hall in New York will host a workshop with local students and volunteers and begin interviewing local veterans on Veterans Day.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hosted a combined Veterans Day and employee Health Fair in Washington, DC.
  • The Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project in PA is encouraging people across the area to interview the veterans in their lives for VHP.
  • Strong Tower Apostolic Assembly hosted a Veterans Day Brunch and VHP training workshop in Capitol Heights, MD.
  • Students and volunteers at Carroll College in MT will read aloud VHP collections, drawing from memoirs and correspondence identified as meaningful to their community.
  • Blacks in Government hosted a VHP training workshop in Silver Spring, MD.
  • The Craft in America Center in Los Angeles California, in conjunction with the Service episode and exhibit, will host a VHP workshop for students and volunteers.
  • DC Public Library is hosting a VHP training workshop at a local branch.
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) will host a week of “Make It Meaningful” events throughout the district.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will host its annual Salute to Veterans at the Washington, DC headquarters.
  • The Mexican American Community Center in Stockton, CA is installing an exhibit centered on community veterans’ photographs, manuscripts and memorabilia, and will host an open house and oral history training workshop.

Contemporary photo of three people inside an office setting.  One man is holding a large video camera pointed towards a document on a desk.  The two other men are talking.
NBC4 Reporter Chris Lawrence (center) interviews VHP Director Bob Patrick for a Veterans Day-themed news feature. Photograph by Owen Rogers.

As has been the case every year since its inception, VHP receives an increased amount of media coverage during the Veterans Day season, both prior to and after the holiday. This year’s coverage included a segment on Washington’s NBC affiliate, NBC4, which aired on November 8th. The segment featured VHP Director Bob Patrick explaining the VHP process and a look at a few collections that piqued the reporter’s interest. You may access the story online at

Patrick is also featured in a Comcast Newsmaker’s segment, where he discusses VHP’s mission and how to participate. The segment will run on the national XFINITY “On-Demand” and Comcast HD platforms through November 29, 2014. It is also accessible on Comcast Network’s YouTube page here.

 Throughout this morning, several radio stations across the country will air interviews of Patrick explaining how to make Veterans Day meaningful and how easy it is to record veterans’ oral histories for the Library of Congress. Tune in at one of the stations below.

7:20 – 7:30 AM ET- Metro Networks Seattle (Regional)

7:30 – 7:40 AM ET - WAMV (Roanoke)

7:40 – 7:50 AM ET – WPHM (Detroit)

7:50 – 8:00 AM ET – KLTF (Minneapolis)

8:00 – 8:10 AM ET – WBAV (Charlotte)

8:10 – 8:18 AM ET – WYRQ (Little Falls)

8:18 - 8:28 AM ET – WELW (Cleveland)

8:30 – 8:40 AM ET – WDBL (Nashville)

8:40 – 8:50 AM ET – WATD (Boston)

8:50 – 9:00 AM ET – WVNU (Cincinnati)

9:00 – 9:10 AM ET – WQEL (Columbus)

9:10 – 9:20 AM ET – WFAS (New York)

9:20 – 9:30 AM ET- WOCA (Orlando)

9:30 – 9:40 AM ET – WFIN (Toledo)

9:40 – 9:50 AM ET – WSAT (Charlotte)

9:50 – 10:00 AM ET - KDAZ (Albuquerque)

10:00 – 10:10 AM ET – WLKF (Tampa)

10:10 – 10:20 AM ET – KOGA (Denver)

10:20 – 10:30 AM ET- – WTER (National)

10:30 – 10:40 AM ET – WRTA (Altoona)

10:40 – 10:50 AM ET – KMA (Omaha)

10:50 – 11:00 AM ET – KWCC (Seattle)

11:00 – 11:10 AM ET- Kansas Information Network (Regional)

11:10 - 11:20 AM ET – Military Life Radio and Navy Wife Radio (National)

3:40 – 3:58 PM ET CRN- The Chuck Wilder Show- (National)

With all these activities going on, I implore you to do something for Veterans Day, something meaningful that is. I’m not saying skip that trip to the mall altogether. I mean, who doesn’t love a good sale? But when you return, please remember the veteran in your life.


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