The Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) has launched a multi-year campaign to preserve the stories of the nation’s Vietnam War veterans. Volunteers and veterans are needed to record these important stories for the Veterans History Project collection, accessible at www.loc.gov/vets/.
"In the coming years, our nation will commemorate 50 years since the conflict in Vietnam," said VHP Director Bob Patrick, referring to the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration established to honor and pay tribute to Vietnam War veterans and their families. "The personal histories of those who served will help us heal, learn and remember, while leaving a powerful legacy for future generations."
The stories of former Sen. Chuck Hagel and his brother Tom Hagel, who fought side by side in the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong River Delta, are among the more than 13,000 Vietnam veteran collections already held by VHP. The brothers recently ushered in VHP’s new campaign by donating more than 20 hours of interviews and film footage to the Library. Originally collected by Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET), representatives from NET were on hand to commemorate the donation.
"When we think of wars – whether it’s Vietnam or any other war – we think of it as a unitary subject, the Vietnam War," Tom Hagel shared at the event. "But there are millions of Vietnam Wars. If you were a clerk-typist stationed in Saigon or up on the demilitarized zone, or some other unit with some other type of job, your Vietnam War would be totally different from ours. And that’s important to tell. It gives a more complete, realistic picture of that experience. That’s the value of this project."
Epitomizing that thought are the stories of Brian Markle and Jeanne Markle, who were among the first married couples to arrive in country. She was a nurse with an evacuation hospital, and he was an officer in charge of medical logistics. African-American truck driver Thomas Hodge didn’t expect to live long when he got to Vietnam; he heard that the life expectancy of a wartime truck driver was three days. He survived, as did nurse Rhona Marie Knox Prescott, though her friend and fellow nurse perished in a helicopter crash.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.
Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 as a national documentation program of the American Folklife Center (www.loc.gov/folklife/) to collect, preserve and make accessible the first-hand remembrances of American wartime veterans from World War I through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. The project relies on volunteers to record veterans’ remembrances using guidelines accessible at www.loc.gov/vets/. Volunteers may request more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to VHP’s RSS feed on the VHP home page.