U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., announced Monday, Nov. 25, that West Virginia veterans in every region of the state will now be able to participate in the Veterans History Project without traveling far from home.


“Thanks to the cooperation of West VirginiaUniversity, MountainState veterans will be able to record their stories through each of the WVU campuses in the state, the WVU Extension Service, and through the WVU School of Journalism,”Byrd said.


“Since our founding in 1867, WVU has sought to help its students understand the causes of human conflict around the globe. This project, in which veterans’accounts are recorded for future generations, will have many benefits, not the least of which is to give us all the resolve to work for global peace and to remember those who preserved American freedom,” WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. explained.


“We are extremely proud to be a part of this important national project and especially committed to ensuring that West Virginians are prominently featured among our nation’s heroes,”Hardesty said.


“The nations veterans have repeatedly risked life and limb to defend the values that Americans hold dear. Veterans can pass on the lessons that they have learned to a younger generation, thereby ensuring that their experiences will extend long into the future. When our nations veterans �€the embodiment of our history �€share their knowledge, the fabric of our nation is made richer,”Byrd said.


The Library of Congress has adopted the mission of collecting and preserving the memories, accounts and documents of war veterans and of those who served in support of them during World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf conflicts. This national collection of artifacts will be available for use by all Americans, including students, teachers, researchers and other veterans. The collection includes compelling accounts of wartime service from men and women representing many ranks, jobs, branches of service and theaters of war.


“Collecting the oral histories of American veterans is a critical task in preserving our countrys history. These histories will be an invaluable resource for future generations and will become part of the nations vast historical record that the Library of Congress has preserved for 200 years,”said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.


In the year and a half that the Library of Congress has accepted submissions, it has received more than 2,400 oral history interviews or other personal wartime accounts. But only 20 of those submissions are from West Virginians. Byrd hopes that the decision by West VirginiaUniversity to partner with the Library of Congress and to seek out veterans proactively will encourage many more veterans in the state to participate.


“Across the country, there are more than 19 million veterans, including approximately 202,000 in West Virginia. Each has a unique story to tell of service to country. In just the short time since its creation, the Veterans History Project has started to amass remarkable interviews and documentary materials that span much of the 20th century. I encourage West Virginia veterans to contact one of the partner organizations and ensure that their stories and recollections are saved for posterity,”Byrd stated.


A full list of West Virginia and national partner organizations is available on Byrds Internet site,http://byrd.senate.gov, or on the Library of Congress site,http://www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/. As more organizations join in this effort, those lists will be updated.