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Veterans History Project Responds

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Some strong but, unfortunately, inaccurate words have been used regarding a small handful of the 50,000+ oral histories of the Veterans History Project (part of the Library?s American Folklife Center).

News reporters and others have been using terms like ?fraud? or ?misrepresentation? to describe the incorrect listing of 24 veterans on the VHP Web site as having been awarded the Medal of Honor (AKA the Congressional Medal of Honor).

Soon, and elsewhere on the LOC Web site, we will be issuing this statement:


Recent media coverage has portrayed veterans who have donated interviews to the Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center as having made ?fraudulent? claims regarding the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Veterans History Project (PL 106-380) is a congressionally mandated, public-participation oral history project to gather and preserve the personal wartime recollections of veterans.? Its objective is to build a body of personal histories, housed in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, which illuminate the human element and further enrich our own understanding of Americans who have served in 20th- and 21st-century conflicts.

It is not an official military record archive and is intended only to supplement, not substitute for, the historical record.? As such, the VHP, which currently houses more than 50,000 oral histories and collections, does not verify the accuracy of accounts that are provided to the project.

VHP periodically verifies collections that reference the Medal of Honor, which are a matter of widely accessible public records, and we have enhanced our internal systems to help ensure the accuracy of future Medal of Honor recipients.? However, our review of these most recent claims indicates that there has been no intent whatsoever to provide false information.

Releasing the names of honorable individuals gratuitously and wrongfully as having misrepresented the truth does them a disservice, and undermines this effort to preserve important, personal stories of war that otherwise would have been lost.

The truth is, in investigating the 24 cases in question, we have no indication to believe the errors were anything but innocent.? For instance, many of those veterans were awarded the Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal by the government of South Vietnam.? But somewhere in the chain of information, whether in transcription or database entry, it was inadvertently shortened to ?Medal of Honor.?

I won?t link to the original story in another publication that lists the 24 veterans by name.? But it is a shame that we weren?t given the opportunity to respond appropriately before such incorrect and highly charged insinuations were published.

Comments (11)

  1. There’s a reason why we call them war stories — I think of Huck Finn, and his description of Tom Sawyer as “mostly true, except for the whoppers.” The memories of my uncles telling stories of their time in the Pacific during World War II are precious to me — and I’m glad one uncle lived long enough for him to strip off his shirt and show my sons the scars from swimming through burning oil. They didn’t live to contribute to the VHP, and neither did my dad or my father in law. I can honor our vets, and the fundamental truth behind their stories, without needing to believe every word as gospel. Thank you to the Library for creating the Veterans History Project and giving them a voice.

  2. my father and his brother
    served in wwi i wish they
    could have told thier strories
    and my brother and cousins
    think of the stories of
    my long ago family of airharts
    from the early foundingof this
    country and the wars of 1700
    and i812 and onward would
    have to say these wonderful
    old veterns thank you for your

  3. Speaking of correcting the historical record, here is the first paragraph of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

    “YOU don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.”

  4. Thanks, Larry! I’m not sure that your post doesn’t make my precise point — that a story can be true in spirit yet historically inaccurate.

  5. Laryy, you are so right, after all the veterans are always forgotten

  6. i agree whit lentigogirl

  7. I am writing a serious of articles on my father’s life during the invasion at Normandy. I am fortunate enough to have a diary from the 32nd infantry that depicts the day to day struggles.

    It is hard to believe that I am learning so much about WW2 now. I will ensure my children cherish it.

  8. I have gone to many of my father’s Army reunions. He served in WW2 and I will listen to the stories told around the tables by the men that served for our country. It makes me proud to hear the stories. Huck finn or not. They are greatness.

  9. After reading the article, I just feel that I need more information on the topic. Could you share some resources ?

  10. My father was in the 3 rd Army under Patton at the Siekfrede Line ( Not sure of that spelling ) How do I find out if my fathers name is on the ww II memorial? Any help would be appreciated . Thank you Patricia

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