Thursday, July 26, 2012

Veterans History Project: Recording America's Past

Written by Haben Twelede, intern staff contributor 
We are happy to announce the successful completion of its first official Veteran History Project interview. 
June 9th was an exciting day for the Veterans History Project volunteers, particularly for those who were glad and eager to kick off this remarkable opportunity for the North Texas Region. 
Judging from the eventful WWII stories told by our first veteran interviewee, John Skinner, those involved in this project are in for an incredibly interesting experience. 
I, for one, feel honored and privileged to partake in the collection and preservation of these firsthand accounts before they are lost forever. 
If you haven’t already heard of it, the Veterans History Project is a great way for volunteers to give back to their community and to the veterans who were willing to give up so much for the safety and security of our nation. 
In October 2000, the United States Congress voted unanimously for legislation to create the Veterans History Project via the Library of Congress. Since then, the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces has joined the Library of Congress’ efforts to endorse the Veterans History Project. 
The Veterans History Project honors American war veterans by recording their stories of service to our country. It collects, preserves and makes readily available the first person accounts of America’s veterans. The Red Cross aids Congress in their efforts with the anticipation that America’s future generations will access these interviews for numerous reasons. Families of the veterans and scholarly researchers will be able to access these interviews and learn more about these individuals and the military conflicts in which they were involved.
Mr. Skinner, a calm and proper 89-year-young WWII veteran, had some fascinating and personalized stories he shared with us. Mr. Skinner joined the Air Force, or Air Corp as it was called at the time, closer to the end of WWII as a pilot of the legendary B-17 bomber. Stationed in a small city outside of Rome, Italy, he claimed to have flown on dozens of raiding missions across the Alps. 
“The Germans sat at the top of the mountains and shot at us as we flew across the Alps into Germany, and they shot at us as we came back; it was fascinating… You’d see puffs of smokes on the tops of the mountains… But if you’d see the smoke you’d know it (the enemy’s artillery fire) was too late because the shell must have passed by your plane… There’s no telling how many shells they shot at us,” Mr. Skinner explained during the earlier part of his interview.
You can hear more of Mr. Skinner’s interview, as well as many other documented interviews, at the VHP’s official website,
One factor that makes this project so fascinating is the fact that you’ll never know what you’re going to hear.
All American war veterans and people who have an interest in oral history are invited and encouraged to participate. The Veterans History Project allows its volunteers and participants to, in a way, relive the stories of incredible acts of valor made by the men and women who were called to protect our freedom and rights by insuring our security. 
For anyone interested in participating in this historical project, there are a number of volunteer job vacancies that the chapter will need to fill soon. 
Volunteer Positions Include: 
  • Project Coordinator
  • Interview Preparation Volunteer
  • Project Outreach Volunteer, Project Volunteer Interviewer
  • Project Interview Coordinator

To learn more about how you can become a part of the Veterans History Project and what these job vacancies entail, contact Lilly Watson at
The VHP is a great opportunity for volunteers to give to their communities, future generations and the nation’s veterans. It also provides a chance to experience history in a direct, timeless and priceless manner. The Red Cross is committed to assisting the Library of Congress in the safeguarding of these national treasures. 
We hope after continual planning and preparation we’ll be able to use our acquired insight to help spread the message and cause of this project to other chapters across the country. 
The names of the interviewees and interviewers will be stored and made searchable within the archives of the Library of Congress. 
If you or any veteran friend or family member is interested in participating, please  email us, call us at (214) 678-4800 or visit us at the American Red Cross Dallas Chapter with any questions or concerns.

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