McNerney invites vets to tape war stories

May 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In honor of Memorial Day, California Congressman Jerry McNerney (D) invited area veterans to his office in Pleasanton, to share their stories.

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The Veterans History Project is a national effort to preserve and to share the stories that veterans can tell. On Friday, veterans gathered in Pleasanton to add to the national collection.

Have you ever considered the eye of a camera lens the window to your soul? On Friday it was for veterans. For 45 minutes, seven veterans who served in World War II, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf shared their memories about their time in the armed forces with a video camera.

In Congressman Jerry McNerney's Pleasanton office veterans shared their intimate and even painful details about their time in the military.

"Going into Fort Bragg, I saw this huge sign that said, 'Welcome to Klan country' and I said, 'Wow. What's going on with this?'" said Abram Wilson, a U.S. Army Veteran.

All of this, every word of it, was recorded by East Bay students who were there to listen.

"One-on-one person talking is much better than reading out of a text book. It brings so much more emotion and more life to what they've gone through," said Matt Pita, a California High School senior.

It's all part of a national movement to preserve veteran's stories.

Congressman McNerney started hosting the veteran's project last year. After all of the interviews are done, the tapes are sent to Washington D.C. where they'll be housed in the Library of Congress.

"I think it's a great format. I think it's good to use any forum that just conveys what we do. Not everybody goes out there because they want to fight and kill people. In fact, we do it because we don't want to do that," said John Hall, a Persian Gulf War veteran.

Soldiers, like anyone else, can be misunderstood. Now, they get to set the record straight years and even decades later.

"I did it because for one it helped me grow up and it helped make me a better person. And I felt that... I sort of feel that I have earned the right to live here," said Hall.

The experience was moving for the veterans. Many aren't used to sharing stories about themselves. One veteran said he hopes those who watch his tape have a renewed understanding for the term sacrifice.

Link: Veterans History Project

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