Moving the past from its isolation in hidden war trunks and unspoken stories to the forefront of our attention is exactly what Lisa Spahr did in her book World War II Radio Heroes: Letters of Compassion and precisely what the Veteran’s History Project is trying to do. In order to preserve the history beyond textbook-bare outlines, veterans from conflicts ranging from World War I to the Persian Gulf Wars are telling their personal achievements and stories. This project is the nation’s largest oral history undertaking. However, it is able to reach an even larger audience through court reporters who transcribe the interviews at lightning speed. Court reporters are expensive but some have become so taken with the documentation of history and the personal stories of the veterans that they have either volunteered or sought out family members to interview. Like Sphar, these men and women are creating a cultural repository for our generations and those to come. Many veterans do not even speak to their families about their times in war, but this work will memorialize the personal traumas and highlights that are the foundations of human existence. To listen to a veteran’s personal story of a battle can much more deeply ingrain history into people, more so than sometimes dry textbooks at least.
With this ambitious endeavor, our nation’s history through the multiplicity of voices is being told because we should not be a place with merely one story but one of many. While these voices are being heard, we can only hope that those that aren’t may soon be. For more information on the project and to listen to interviews, please visit: http://www.loc.gov/vets.