Making Veterans Day a Meaningful One

(The following is a guest post from Lisa A. Taylor, liaison specialist with the Veterans History Project.)

Amie Pleasant interviews Vietnam Veteran Peter Young Photo by Christy Chason.

Amie Pleasant interviews Vietnam Veteran Peter Young. Photo by Christy Chason.

Millions of Americans across the country observe Veterans Day every Nov. 11. Armistice Day, now Veterans Day in the United States, is a commemoration dedicated to all veterans – a way to remember and thank them for their bravery and sacrifice. People choose to mark the day in a variety of ways. 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 will make Veterans Day  meaningful, not only for you, but also for the veteran in your life. Go one easy step further and encourage others to do the same by sharing on your social media accounts one or more of VHP’s 16,000 digitized collections that resonate with you.

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.

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 (D-Md.) 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, D.C.
  • The Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project in Pennsylvania 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.
  • In addition to hosting a week-long exhibit, students and volunteers at Carroll College in Montana 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, Calif., in conjunction with their 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 (D-Calif.) 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, D.C. headquarters.
  • The Mexican American Community Center in Stockton, Calif., is installing an exhibit centered on community veterans’ photographs, manuscripts and memorabilia, and will host an open house and oral history training workshop.

With all these activities going on, I implore you to do something for Veterans Day, something meaningful that is.

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