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Local veterans record stories for Library of Congress

June 21, 2011

WWII veteran Earl E. Hill and daughter Karen Clevenger fill out a field kit with help from Plymouth VFW commander Karl Collier. The field kit gathers simple information about the veteran and their experiences and is sent in to the Library of Congress along with video or photographs.

PLYMOUTH — Two representatives for congressman Joe Donnelly visited the Plymouth VFW post 1162 Friday to videotape WWII veteran’s accounts of their service. The recordings will be placed in the Library of Congress American Folklife Center Reading Room—available for anyone to watch and listen to—as part of the Veterans History Project.
Karl Collis, commander of the Plymouth VFW, contacted the Veterans History Project about interviewing local veterans, concerned that their stories may be lost when the men themselves are gone.
“I went to two veteran’s funerals this week,” said Collis. “I told (Donnelly’s office) that we had WWII veterans, and I would like their stories to be told.”
Denise Baron, congressional representative, set up a video camera and began the first interview while Meredith Perks, case manager for veterans and military issues, assisted the veterans in attendance with filling out their field kits—a booklet with simple information to be included along with each recorded interview.
“The goal is to get at least a half hour (on tape),” said Baron. “That’s the minimum for the Library of Congress.”
The national project, created by an act of Congress in 2000, is an ongoing effort to preserve veterans testimonies about the wars they were involved in. Baron added that Joe Donnelly has done a number of the veteran’s interviews himself.
“(Donnelly) has done a ton for veterans in this area,” said Baron. “It’s really a focus of his.”
Baron and Perks traveled to Plymouth from Donnelly’s district office in South Bend. Over the course of several hours, they were able to record several accounts of veterans for the history project collection. According to the website, the recordings may take up to six months to process, but then they will be available for viewing in the Reading Room.
Veterans or family members of veterans interested in preserving their stories can do an interview for the collection themselves, using resources and tips found on the Veterans History Project website, www.loc.gov/vets. The Library of Congress is also interested in hearing the accounts of current military service men or women, and U.S. citizen civilians were professionally involved in supporting war efforts.

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