The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is collecting audio of military veterans across the state. Their stories will be preserved for future generations. An interviewer records the veteran’s recollection of his or her military experience, each portraying a different perspective.
“Because we’re a veterans museum; we’re not a war museum and we’re not a military museum. We’re a museum that focuses on that veterans experience.”
Ellen Brooks is the first permanent full-time oral historian, overseeing the museum’s Oral History Project, which began 20 years ago. Almost 1,900 interviews have been recorded.
“Almost half of them are transcribed and the rest are in the process. The variety of the interviews is so impressive to me,” Brooks says, “and we’re looking to increase the diversity of the veterans, as well.”
AUDIO: No matter how many interviews they get, Brooks says they’ll continue to pursue more in order to show a variety of experiences. :55
Brooks will have the interviews transcribed, archived, and available for the public — some are already online. She is in search of more stories, before they are lost or forgotten. Brooks says there are many “gut wrenching” as well as light-hearted memories. They are all part of the veteran experience.
“Kind of a theme that I always see, that I find really interesting, is just people talking about how the military really brought them up and how the military made them the person that they are today.”
The interviews are conducted by trained volunteers, many of whom are veterans themselves. They are currently focusing on the aging WWII population, but all veterans in all branches of the military are encouraged to tell their story — as long as they have ties to Wisconsin.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:49