Library of Congress wants YOUR war story

Tuesday - 11/16/2010, 10:31am EST

Bob Patrick, director, Veterans History Project, LOC

Click below to hear the interview

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

War stories. The phrase has become common over the years. But real war stories are those shared by the veterans of America's wars.

Congress has tasked the Library of Congress to collect as many war stories as possible.

They're doing that through the Veterans History Project.

Bob Patrick, director of that project, told Federal News Radio "we've been very successful in doing that, creating we think the largest archive of this type in American history of some 72,000 collections. We have stories from veterans from World War I all the way up to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan."

And, while 72,000 histories is an amazing start, Patrick said there are 17 million living wartime veterans. "What we really need is for people to go out an interview them." Anyone can do it, said Patrick. "It's as simple as finding a veteran in your life and interviewing them for the Veterans History Project."

While most of the interviews are audio or video oral histories, the Project also take in letters, photographs, and diaries. "About half of the interviews we have have been done by families who want to make this part of their family's history," said Patrick.

"From the foxhole to the cockpit to the motorpool to the mess hall," the Project is looking for the human experience of war.

We took the opportunity to as Patrick about the last remaining World War I vet we learned is still collecting benefits from the VA. He didn't even pause before answering, "Frank Buckles is on our website!" He remembered two interviews done on the site given when Buckles was 100 and 103 years old.

"Wonderful man, great story of World War I, and also in World War II, some people don't realize, he was incarcerated by the Japanese for all of World War II as a civilian Merchant Mariner. He's got a great story."

See for yourself on the Frank Buckles page of the Veterans History Project.