Veterans recount WWII stories

Videos to be available soon

Staff report

PIQUA — Videos of men and women from the Miami Valley telling stories of their military experience soon will be available locally to the public.

Included in the DVD collection are such historic World War II events as the Battle of the Bulge and the Beaches of Normandy invasion, as well as, prison camp accounts of what American soldiers witnessed at Stalag VII-A and Dachau.

Accounts of those who served after World War II are in the collection, which features medics, a surgeon, infantry, and those in all branches of service, engaged in the diverse roles essential to support armed conflicts.

In funding this initiative, Steve Staley, grant-making committee chairman, and Karen Wendeln, executive director of the Piqua Community Foundation, said, “Our Foundation feels strongly the importance of preserving the stories of our local veterans in their own words for future generations. The project provided the unique opportunity to capture their stories, to involve our local college students, and to create permanent recordings for use by those in our community and throughout the country.”

Volunteer coordinator and Edison State faculty member Dr. Vivian Blevins became involved in organizing the video interview project with students after attending a workshop on the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Students in Blevins’ American literature and communication classes had the opportunity to receive honors credit for interviewing three veterans and earning a grade of A or B for their work.

“I taught students the process: learn about the historical period of the veteran; get vital information on the veteran; learn to introduce him/her, follow the questions which I provided, and conduct the interview,” Blevins explained. “Then they wrote papers in which they detailed the interviews and the impact it had on them.”

A student who was active in the project wrote:

“I am glad I was able to participate in this project, but writing this paper was extremely difficult and emotionally draining. Usually when I talk about my family and my son’s father and the military, I am surrounded by people just like me and we can cry and laugh about crying together. I wrote this paper at home, alone with my cat, talking to you, the reader, through words and pictures on a computer screen. It was very lonely and desolate. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me — none of us do. I just hope that when you see bumper stickers, t-shirts, and other reminders that ‘freedom isn’t free,’ you will realize that not only do our military men and women pay the price, but their families pay a price, too.”

The second part of the collection includes DVDs titled “Veterans’ Voices” that Blevins produced, which aired on Western Ohio Television Consortium (WOTVC) Channel 5. Vietnam Air Force veteran Nick Essinger filmed this series and Vietnam Era Coast Guard veteran Ted Jones served as editor. The Piqua Community Foundation provided the funds for duplicating the DVDs and completing the extensive documentation and clerical tasks.

The DVDs will soon be available at the Miami Valley Veterans Museum in Troy for viewing, and a special set is available to be checked out and may be duplicated. Area teachers are encouraged to consider using these historic accounts in their classrooms.

For more information, contact Blevins by emailing or calling (937) 778-3815.

Videos to be available soon

Staff report