Senator Starts Project To Record NJ Veterans’ History

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Sen. Frank Lautenberg

NEW BRUNSWICK – U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) was joined Monday by officials, veterans, and volunteers at Rutgers University to kick off his collaboration with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.  The project’s goal is to record and preserve the stories of veterans from New Jersey and throughout the nation. Lautenberg’s office recorded the stories of five New Jersey veterans who attended the event and will submit their oral histories to the Veterans History Project.

“With more than 450,000 veterans living in New Jersey, it is our duty to record their wartime stories and preserve that piece of history for all to see, hear, and learn from,” Lautenberg stated.  “The Veterans History Project relies on a team of volunteers working in their communities to find veterans and help them record their stories.  Soldiers are now returning home from combat, and many more have previously served our country proudly.  Recording these stories will preserve our nation’s history, and I urge New Jerseyans to contact my office to collaborate on this important project.”

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“In my view, the single most effective way to learn and understand the lessons of history is when that history is related by a man or woman who ‘lived’ it,” said Raymond L. Zawacki, NJ Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs.  “Senator Lautenberg’s initiative to bring greater focus to this area is illustrated by the gathering of veterans here today.  Each played his or her own role in the making of history and their stories need to be recorded to preserve that history for future generations of Americans.”

“Few events in world history had as profound an impact on so many people as World War II,” said Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick. “Everyone at Rutgers should be very proud of the vital work done at our own Rutgers Oral History Archives, and New Jersey veterans should participate in the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress.”

Monday’s kick-off event included a training session for individuals interested in participating in the Veterans History Project, either as interviewers or interviewees.  Representatives from the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Red Cross, Wounded Warrior Project, Military Officers Association, and local county service officers were among those in attendance.

In addition, the following veterans had their stories recorded for submission to the Veterans History Project: Arthur Seltzer of Cherry Hill, a WWII veteran who survived D-Day; Tom Mahoney of Union Township, a WWII veteran who survived Pearl Harbor; Danielle Peloquin of South Brunswick, a Vietnam veteran; and Joe Nyzio of Bordentown and Justin Sasso of Holmdel, both veterans of Iraq.

The Veterans History Project was created by Congress in 2000, and marked its 10-year anniversary this past fall. The mission of the VHP is to collect, preserve and make accessible the first-hand accounts of American wartime veterans. This includes collections of oral histories, memoirs, diaries and photographs. More than 70,000 veteran stories have been collected so far, including 1,200 from New Jersey. An online database of the Veteran’s History Project can be found at: http://www.loc.gov/vets/

Lautenberg, who served in the Army during World War II, recorded his personal wartime history with the Veterans History Project in October 2007. He is now working to reach as many of the state’s veterans as possible with this program. Lautenberg’s office will collaborate with veterans groups, schools and community organizations to record video histories and collect documents about the lives and wartime experiences of New Jersey veterans.

Information about the project and how to participate is now available on Lautenberg’s website at: http://www.lautenberg.senate.gov/VHP.cfm


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