Experiencing War

If you've already watched Saving Private Ryan this evening and are now searching for some good Veterans Day reading, try this site.

Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project

From the site:

Authorized by legislation passed by Congress in 2000, the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center is a nationwide volunteer effort... aimed at collecting oral history interviews, memoirs, letters, diaries, photographs, and other original materials from veterans of World Wars I and II, and the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf Wars and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present). The collection is housed at the Library of Congress. To date more than 35,000 individual submissions have been received.

In association with National Geographic Books, the Project just published its second compilation of veterans' stories, titled "Forever a Soldier." The first was "Voices of War: Stories of Service From the Home Front and Front Lines."


These unforgettable eyewitness accounts of wartime service from veterans of World War I through the current conflict in Iraq are culled from letters, diaries, private memoirs and oral histories collected by the Veterans History Project. Included are tales of frontline action, from doughboy Hillie Franz’s 1918 baptism of fire to battleship gunner Ray Brittain’s duel with Japanese planes at Pearl Harbor to medical officer Rhonda Cornum’s capture by Iraqis when her helicopter was shot down during the Gulf War. Each story is unique, but taken as a whole the compilation puts a familiar face on the universal realities of war: courage and fear, horror and exhilaration, sorrow and triumph.

The Project supplies an Interview Kit to volunteers interested in submitting a veteran's remembrances. They welcome both multimedia and documents.

For more information or to request a project kit, call toll-free (888) 371-5848 or email vohp@loc.gov.

If my uncle were still with us, you can bet I'd be setting a microphone in front of him at Thanksgiving.

Mail Call 4/18/44
"Even before Mrs. Gerald Duquette opened her husband's letters from the Pacific Theater, she had to chuckle, thanks to Samuel Boylston. Corporal Duquette wrote frequently to his wife in Westport, Connecticut, and his buddy, Sergeant Boylston, an aspiring illustrator, would decorate the envelopes with humorous scenes of GI life during World War II. Boylston's ingenuity and cheerfully satirical view of life in uniform are evident in the 60 envelopes donated to the Veterans History Project."

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