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Monday, February 20, 2006

Preserving the Memory of our Veterans
by Chuck

Reading the spring issue of USAA Magazine (published by the USAA the Insurance and Financial Services organization for current and former members of the military) the other morning while eating breakfast I ran across a short piece about the Registry of Remembrances for World War II veterans at the World War II Memorial being built in Washington, D.C. Veterans, living or deceased are not automatically registered by the government. Instead the veterans or their families have to enter them into this electronic registry.

Names can be added by going on line to I have taken a quick look at the site and the registry is just one part of it. At the site you can check to see if the veteran in question has been entered as well as making the entry yourself. A quick check revealed that my father has not yet been entered but I intend to correct that shortly. From my brief look it appears to be a simple name and home state registry but, when I go in to register it may turn out to be more extensive. I did notice a place for photos so the information that can be entered probably will be more extensive. Names can also be added by calling 1-800-639-4992.

A second site, related but apparently not connected to the WWII memorial is the Veteran’s History Project which is dedicated to preserving veteran’s stories from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

As with the registry, the entries can be made by the veteran himself or herself or by relatives. The stories can be a remembrance written for the project, an oral recording of remembrances, letters, diaries, photos, etc.

The Veteran’s History Project is supported by the U.S. Congress and the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and is a part of a larger American Folklore program operated by the Library of Congress. The website is You can also call 1-888-371-5848.

Again, I only had time to spend a couple of minutes on this site but the project not only seemed extensive but also contained a downloadable kit with forms and instructions for collecting and submitting the information, as well as questions designed to assist a veteran in telling their story.

Like the registry, this site appears to be a great way to both honor and remember the legacy of these veterans. The Veteran’s History Project is also a great way to preserve and publish photos, diaries, letters, etc. for future generations. These types of things are often discarded when closing the homes of the veteran’s when they die or simply get lost or disintegrate with age. If you have these types of materials and are either not interested in saving them yourself and/or wish to share them with the future now would be a good time to donate them to this project. However, if you do have plans for future publication of this material (and there is a growing market for published veteran’s first hand accounts) be careful before donating them as you may be giving up copyrights and future publishing rights.

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