PBS project will keep history alive
November 07, 2007
I hope you've had the chance to see some or all of Ken Burns' great documentary, The War, on PBS over the last month.
World War II is one of those pivotal times in history that we never seem to tire of studying and reliving.
I continue to be amazed at the frontline footage and interviews that Burns and his staff managed to uncover. Surprisingly, many of the accounts of the ordinary people of the war—the men who fought and women who built the planes and tanks—had hints of humor. Undoubtedly, the passage of more than 50 years made that possible.
Unfortunately, time is also the enemy of sorts when it comes to losing those memories and accounts.
Close to 1,000 World War II veterans pass away every day.
So, in a superb example of 'community journalism,' Burns and PBS are making it possible for veterans to share their tales and encouraging anyone with an interest to contribute to the Veterans History Project. This program, created by Congress in 2000, has started to collect personal stories from both World Wars and the conflicts in Vietnam, Korea and the Persian Gulf which are then housed in the Library of Congress.
"Our film, The War, is as much about storytelling, about sharing unique experiences, as it is about World War II and as such, we hope that it touches on the universal human experience of battle," Burns said.
Anyone with a war-related story, who was alive during the 1940s, is welcome to submit their memories, photos, etc. to their local PBS station as part of their community engagement effort as it relates to airing 'The War.'
The Veterans History Project is seeking recorded interviews, original war time diaries and collections of original letters.
Sample interview questions, tips on recording and submission forms can all be found at www.pbs.org/thewar.
What better way to honor the veteran you know this year for Veterans' Day. Spend a few hours chatting or sift through old photographs or letters and do what you can to archive those memories so we, as a nation, can continue to honor such brave men and women.
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