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Library of Congress Seeks Stories From Korean, Vietnam War Vets

Library of Congress

For the past 15 years, the Library of Congress has been collecting the stories and writings of the men and women who have served in the armed forces. Now  with Veterans Day Wednesday, the man running the program is making a new appeal to find stories featuring wars lesser known and those recently fought.

The oldest war represented in the Library of Congress’ Veteran’s History project is World War I. The War with the most representation is World War II. But Director Bob Patrick says some wars have fallen out of the collective memory:

“People often say the Korean War is often the Forgotten War.  A lot of people have heard it said its probably the forgotten victory of what that country turned in to. And Vietnam-- I think everyone too often sees Vietnam too often in what’s being done in Hollywood and television and not what actually happened there.”   

He knows Vietnam is still a controversial conflict.

We’re in the process in our nation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war in Vietnam, and they’re a group of veterans who have a story to tell and I am one who feels their story has not been told as well as it should be.”

The Library of Congress’ 98,000 veteran history collections represent just a fraction of the millions of men and women who have served in America’s wars. “We have 14 million living wartime Veterans, and we certainly aren’t going to get all of their stories," he said, "but we have some newer Veterans whose stories need to be told and archived.”

But Patrick says, telling those stories can be hard. War is painful. And many veterans may never share their experiences. For others, it may take years, decades even. And the stories of war are full of conflicting emotions for those who served.

“I think they tell a lot. In a lot of cases, there’s commonality. It’s a story of being away from home, it’s the story of being lonely. It’s a story of, in the end, being proud of what they’ve done.”

From the mass forces of WWII, to the Drone conflicts of today, the stories of war are the stories of history, and the Library of Congress is trying to record and preserve that history, one Veteran at a time.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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