New History Project Gives Veterans A Voice
All South Mississippi veterans are invited to share their stories as part of a unique large-scale history project. These first-hand accounts will be heard and seen each week across the Coast through a program called the Veterans History Project . The program will air on WLOX news in partnership with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College . Sponsors include ChevronTexaco Pascagoula Refinery and Keesler Federal Credit Union.
This amazing oral history project, which began airing in April 2004, features a local veteran each week on WLOX, and it is scheduled to run for two years (April 2006). The project is being conducted under the guidelines of the national Veterans History Project, and all materials will be submitted to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for posterity.
The Veterans History Project officially launched on March 9, 2004 on the college's Jefferson Davis Campus. More than 150 guests, including veterans, took part in an informative breakfast to find out more about this massive, local effort to record and preserve their stories. Within 24 hours of announcing the project, 30 veterans called to learn more or schedule an interview.
Gulf Coast was contacted by WLOX as a principal partner in the project in December 2003. Three of the college's history instructors are conducting the interviews with veterans. Dr. Willis Lott, MGCCC president, says it's a privilege for the college to be a part of the project.
"These powerful, personal testimonies are vanishing voices. Many of our veterans have not even shared their experiences with family members. The news broadcast component of the project is giving our generation, and generations to come, a vivid and compelling account of war-time experiences," Lott said.
The benefits of the project will last far longer than an evening newscast, said Dave Vincent, WLOX's news director/station manager. These stories will also be used in area classrooms as a way for students to experience our nation's past.
"I don't think we could be involved in a more important project than the Veterans History Project. The Coast is home to thousands of veterans who have rich stories about the contributions they made to our society. It is exciting to be involved with other wonderful sponsors who will allow us to save these stories for future generations, " Vincent said.
This project comes at a critical time for U.S. veterans. There are 19 million war veterans living in the United States today, but every day more than 1,500 are lost along with their memories and living histories. Steve Renfroe, ChevronTexaco Public and Government affairs manager for Mississippi, believes these brave soldiers represent chapters in the story of our country's past, present and future.
"It's a tremendous honor for Chevron to be a part of this historically significant project, one that will recognize and preserve the unselfish service of our military veterans from the Gulf Coast, many of whom are employees and annuitants of our Pascagoula Refinery ," Renfroe said.
The national Veterans History Project was created by the United States Congress in 2000 with the mission to preserve memories, accounts and documents from war veterans (men and women, military and civilian) who served in World War I, World War II, or the Korean, Vietnam or Persian Gulf wars.
John Goff, senior vice president for Keesler Federal Credit Union , says, "Our credit union was started by a group of South Mississippians who understood that being an American was as much a privilege as a responsibility. We're proud to sponsor the Veterans History Project."