Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary by U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson Last month, I sat down with a group of veterans and several Eagle Scouts to promote an important project – The Veterans History Project. We discussed the devastating effects war has on people at home and abroad.� The veterans shared more tender memories of receiving letters from loved ones or taking a moment to stare at a photograph from home and remembering easier times.�

� The Veterans History Project started approximately 18 months ago to honor those who have served in any war from World War I up to the current engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. The project aims to collect memories from not just the men and women who served, but also the people who waited for them back home.�

� It was an honor for me to support the legislation created this project, and I am now joining the Library of Congress and its American Folklife Center to promote it. The stories of South Dakota veterans should be preserved as part of this national collection.

I am asking my fellow South Dakotans for their help. It can be as simple as a child sitting down with a grandparent or a student meeting with a neighbor.�

Oral history adds a certain richness to memories. It brings us closer to the experiences so we may better understand the intense camaraderie with others upon whom your life literally depends; the fear that come with being under siege; or the uncertainty of waiting on the home front for a loved one to return.

For some, telling these stories can be a daunting, exhausting, and even challenging experience. For others, it can be a tremendous outlet.

For the sons and daughters of veterans, it can be an emotional ride full of anticipation, sadness, or happiness as they have long waited to hear their parent�s wartime stories.�

As many of our veterans from World War I and II grow older, it is important to collect their stories before they are lost. There are currently 19 million war veterans living in the United States, and every day we lose 1,600 of them.

� If you are interested in learning more about this program and would like to join the effort, please contact any of my four offices in Aberdeen, Rapid City, or Sioux Fall, South Dakota or Washington, DC, so that we can get interviews recorded and added to the collection.

By collecting their memories and preserving them at the Library of Congress, we will be able to honor their services for generations to come.

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