In 2000 the United States Congress created the Veteran’s History Project (VHP) as part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The mission of the Veterans History Project is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
The project collects first-hand accounts of U.S. veterans from the following wars: World War I (1914 -1929), World War II (1939 – 1946), Korean War (1950 – 1955), Vietnam War (1961 – 1975), Persian Gulf War (1990 – 1995), and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict (2001-present). Stories can be told through personal narratives which may be audio or video taped; correspondence which may include letters, postcards or personal diaries; and through visual accounts to include: photographs, drawings and scrapbooks. In addition, those U.S. citizen civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) are also invited to share their valuable stories.
In fall 2005, Southeastern Community College formed a committee to plan and develop a program for recording the oral histories of Columbus County and SCC veterans. James Fowler, former dean of students at Southeastern, conducted the first interview in February 2006. Since that time, many interviews of Columbus County veterans have taken place, and a copy of the videotaped interviews and Biographical Data Forms for each veteran are included in the archives of the Library of Congress and the SCC Library. Copies of the interviews are also given to the veterans as a keepsake to share with family members. Sharing the information provides local and nationwide access to veterans’ military experiences.
Upon Mr. Fowler’s retirement in March 2011, I was afforded the opportunity and honor to carry through on the mission of the College to serve as the source for identifying veterans to participate in the project, conduct interviews and collect historical documents for the project. Since that time, I have interviewed veterans from just about every branch of service and from WWII through the Global War on Terrorism.
I invite all veterans who would like to share their accounts of service to their county to participate in the Veteran’s History Project. The process is simple, with each interview lasting approximately one hour. Interviews are generally conducted in the EDU-Cable studio on campus, however, we can make arrangements to tape at a location that is more convenient for veterans who may have difficulty traveling to the College.
The local Veterans History Project Collection is on reserve at the circulation desk at the SCC Library. Patrons may view the taped interviews in the library or online through the Library of Congress website www.loc.gov/vets. The website provides the name of each veteran, branch of service, and dates of service. For more information about the ongoing Veterans History Project, call me at (910)642-7141, ext. 310 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Maultsby is SCC's human resources administrator.