As we remember Pearl Harbor this week on its 65th anniversary, one lawmaker encourages us to preserve that history. US Representative Ron Kind (D-LaCrosse) says we're losing around 1,600 veterans a day due to old age, but we don't want to lose their accounts of history forever. "What we're trying to do is get people to sit down with their family members, loved ones or a veteran in the community that they know, and with the family video recorder, just record their oral history. You know, trying to preserve an important part of American history."
The LaCrosse Democrat says it's easy to do. Just take out the family video camera. "There are many ways of going about it. It could be as simple as the family video camera over the kitchen table, sitting down with the family member and conducting the interview. There are some preliminary questions we'd like you to ask for indexing purposes."
You can get some sample questions online to help with the interview process. Kind says audio cassettes are OK to submit, as well as other trinkets you might have. "We are also collecting any diaries, photographs of any letters or photographs that were kept by the veterans."
The Library of Congress has archived close to 50,000 audio submissions from across the country since the federal Veterans History Project began six years ago. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum has an Oral History Program of its own, specializing in Wisconsin veterans. That project began in 1994 — six years before the federal program. The museum has around 2,000 oral histories which it shares with the Library of Congress.
NOTE: Kind suggests you go to the Library of Congress website for more info or contact your congressman or US senator. He notes National Court Reporters Association reporters are volunteering their time to transcribe these stories.