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By: Jolene Pierson, Coordinator for the Veterans History Project
For: Red Rock News
Date: November 6, 2009

Veterans History Project at the Sedona Public Library

Nine years ago, the Veterans History Project was established by a unanimous vote of the US Congress as a mandate of the Library of Congress.  Its purpose is to record and preserve the oral history of our nation’s veterans.  The Sedona Public Library is an official partner in this effort, and the volunteer members of the local project group have collected the personal stories of more than one hundred twenty-five area veterans.  We hope to reach all of our veterans so that these memories are preserved as part our national and local history and for the individual veteran’s family.  Imagine how fascinating it would be if you could see and hear veterans of the Civil War telling their stories in their own words and voices!  What a wonderful depth of understanding that would add to the historical account of the conflict!  It is exactly this depth of understanding that will be the most meaningful contribution of the Veterans History Project.  No one can tell a story quite like the person who lived it. 
Specially trained volunteers conduct the interviews of US military veterans who served in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War (1990-1995) or Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present).

We have heard some remarkable stories of personal sacrifice and endurance; humor and sadness; loneliness and adventure; travel and education; friendships made and careers influenced and enhanced.   Some served stateside.  Some served overseas.   Some were Midwestern farm boys who volunteered for the war effort and found themselves aboard ships bound for previously unknown foreign destinations and have shared their mixed feelings of apprehension and adventure.  Some served distinguished careers without ever firing a shot at an adversary.  Some survived the most horrific battles of these wars and have shared stories of how they were able to cope with these experiences. 

Some quietly did their duty without much official recognition or appreciation, still knowing that their job was an essential part of the war effort.  For every soldier on the front lines of conflict, there were nine others whose jobs assured that one could do his job; including civilians who actively supported war efforts as defense industry workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc., and the stories of those who served behind the scenes are also an important part of the record.

Local veterans include a Navy Top Gun pilot, a doctor who treated an early victim of polio, a woman pilot who flew a plane towing a target for anti-aircraft artillery training during WWII; a Korean war medic; a soldier returning for a second tour of duty in Afghanistan; a civilian aircraft designer; a career soldier who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam; a witness to the famous flag raising on Iwo Jima; a survivor of the Battle of Bastogne; a participant in the raid on Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest hideout in Germany; a woman who enlisted in the Marines because she liked those she met on a train and admired the uniform; and many more.  We invite you to add your story to this growing legacy.

Interviews are normally conducted privately in the Quiet Study Room of the Sedona Public Library.  Completed interviews are transferred to DVD’s, one of which is sent to the participating veteran, one to the Library off Congress, and one is retained in the archives of the Sedona Public Library.

Funding for this project is provided locally through tax-deductible donations by individuals and by the generous support of local businesses and the Rotary Club of Sedona.  Donations may be sent to the Sedona Public Library, specifying that the donation is restricted to the Veterans History Project.

Saturday, November 7 has been officially proclaimed Veterans History Project Day in the City of Sedona.  Veterans who have participated in this project are being honored at a Veterans Appreciation Luncheon at the Sedona Public Library on that day.

If you are a veteran, if you know a veteran who should participate in the Veterans History Project, or If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jolene Pierson at 282-7999 or to learn more about our local project.  To learn more about the national Veterans History Project, visit the website of the Library of Congress at

Jolene Pierson, author of this week's article,
is Coordinator for the Veterans History Project at the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.