Thursday, November 11, 2010
In honor of Veterans Day, let me present a video and other resources. The above video is produced by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It's a nice reminder of veterans' sacrifices. But to get a more wide-ranging and gritty sense of veterans' diverse experiences, here are links to two projects that have online video and audio interviews with Americans who've fought in everything from World War I right up to Iran and Afghanistan. First, check out the featured interviews of the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress (which also has written testimonials, correspondence, and other items). Click on a person's name or photo and you'll see that their interviews are conveniently broken down into discrete video or audio stories of a few minutes each, with a short description of the story. The same goes for the excellent interviews at Witness to War, which are indexed according to branch of service, theater of war, and/or experience (such as D-Day, Air Combat, Prisoners of War, or Close Encounters). These two sites are so well organized that you can browse according to your interests. No matter what one may think of the politics of a given war, or of war itself, to fight in a war is one of humanity's most profound experiences; accordingly, it compels many veterans to testify to their experiences, and many other people to hear those testimonies.