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San Diego Veterans Get Opportunity To Tell Stories For National Project

Evening Edition

Above: Since 2000, the Library of Congress has been collecting first-hand accounts from American war veterans. Now, a local initiative will help San Diego veterans tell their stories for the project. KPBS video journalist Katie Schoolov tells us more.

After serving in the Navy from 2004 through 2009, Sarah March is eager to tell others of her experiences.

"I have a daughter, and I want her to be able to know what I did," March said, standing on board the USS Midway Museum in San Diego Bay. "My grandfather served in WWII and he passed, and none of my family knows about his experience."

March said she doesn't want that same fate for her.

"I want my children and my grandchildren to know what I did and what it meant to me," she said.

Now, March and other local veterans will have that chance. She joined Rep. Scott Peters aboard the Midway Monday for the San Diego launch of the Veterans History Project, a Library of Congress effort to collect veterans' stories.

Rep. Scott Peters addresses the crowd at the launch of the Veterans History Project in San Diego, March 31, 2014.

Veterans who wish to tell their story can call Scott Peters' office at (858) 455-5550 or sign up through his website.

San Diego is an ideal place to start gathering service members' oral histories, said Peters, D-San Diego.

"We have 220,000 veterans here, 110,000 active-duty people. San Diego is a military town so let's do it right. We'll do it here, we'll get started with people and they'll know how to do it," he said. "And then we can take this program around the country . Other places can do it as well."

Veterans will be interviewed at local high schools and libraries, sharing their stories to volunteers and students earning community service. The stories will then be archived in the Library of Congress for the public.

A photo of U.S. Navy veteran John Francis Pintar on display at the USS Midway Museum, March 31, 2014.

Marine veteran Tim Caudill said he hopes the project will help get other post-9/11 veterans like himself to talk about their experiences.

"We've already shown a lot of support from the veterans before that, but we're having a very hard time finding post-9/11 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan," Caudill said. "I know it's still early for a lot of veterans to talk about some of the things they need to, but a lot of the time it really does help. Before, you just talk to your family, your friends, and sometimes it's hard to justify doing that."

Caudill said archiving the stories at the Library of Congress not only helps veterans.

"You're also helping future generations understand what war is like — what war's like in the time period we were in," he said.

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