The Library of Congress Wants Vets’ Stories

Robert Joseph O'Brien as a young sailor.

My dad, Robert Joseph O’Brien, was a WWII Navy veteran. On D-Day, he was part of a landing craft crew that took troops to shore, repeatedly, for two days. He then got put on burial detail.

Dad never talked about the Navy, D-Day or the war in general. I think in part it was because he had all daughters and didn’t think we’d understand. I would never have learned his story if he had not confided it to my husband, who told me.

Luckily, I was in radio and had the equipment 20 years ago to sit Dad down and record it. He was reticent, but shared enough detail so that I could produce a story for his grandchildren to hear and treasure. They played it the day we buried Dad at the National Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

I share this because I know how important that recording is for my family and believe it’s the same for others.

The Veterans History Project seeks contributors.

Now, the Library of Congress is seeking help to compile the stories of all veterans for the Veterans History Project.

Whether you know a WWII veteran or a soldier just returned from Afghanistan, the Library of Congress wants your help recording their stories. The interviews can be audio or video and can be conducted by family, friends, neighbors or another veteran. The idea is to get the story.

Guidelines on how to participate, suggested questions and registration forms are all available on the Library of Congress web site . There’s also a “field kit” that can be downloaded.

In addition to individual interviews, a network of universities has been set up in Florida to help record veteran interviews. So far, three have signed up:
Florida State University Reichelt Oral History Program, Tallahassee at 850-644-4966 or rohp@fsu.edu.

University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Gainesville at 352-392-7168 or portiz@ufl.edu.

University of Central Florida RICHES Program, Orlando. Register online at www.ucf.edu (search under “Veterans History Project”) or call 407-823-0242.

To schedule a workshop, speaking engagement, or explore ways to collaborate with VHP in Florida, contact Jessica Souva at Jessica@jsouva.com.

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