Weekly Column

Jul 25 2017

Learning From History

By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

**Click here to download audio of this week’s column.**

We cherish veterans in Nebraska. Whether it’s raising money to help those who fought in Vietnam fly to Washington for an Honor Flight or working to build lasting monuments across our state to remember those who served, we recognize our duty to highlight the honor, courage, and sacrifice of our veterans. Nebraskans also understand the value of having veterans tell their stories. We know that young people can learn from the passed-down knowledge offered by those who served, along with those who supported them. This learning can help the next generation carry on the freedoms and traditions our former warfighters bravely defended.

Historians often say that the past is a prologue. Studying our history can help us better understand the problems of today or tomorrow. We often tackle the challenges of the present by learning the lessons of the past.

I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment, especially when the lessons come from those who risked their lives protecting our way of life. If we want to have a strong military and a more peaceful world in the future, we should employ the study of history to learn from the experiences of our brave veterans who fought in war, along with those who helped them do it. Preserving their stories is not just a way to show our respect, it’s also a guide for future success. The memory of what our veterans did has helped protect our country long after they left the battlefields.

Congress agrees, and in 2000 it created the Veterans History Project (VHP). Operated by the Library of Congress (LOC), this program promotes the collection of firsthand accounts from wartime veterans and the civilians who supported them. These war narratives range from veterans who served in World War I to those who fought in the Iraq War.

Nebraskans must be part of this collection. We have a proud history of military service, and with the VHP, the experiences of our veterans can be preserved and distributed to a larger audience. Through in-person interviews, written journals, and photos, our veterans have shared their experiences with their fellow Nebraskans. With the VHP, they will be sharing them with the American people.

Recently, I continued my efforts to preserve the legacy of Nebraska’s vets by donating to the VHP. My office has been collecting these accounts for several years because I have always believed in the importance of recording tales from those who defended our country. We provided the LOC with 20 interviews from Nebraska veterans and people close to them. It was truly an honor to present these extraordinary accounts of courage, service, and comradery to the world’s largest library to be archived. I know that the LOC will be able to preserve these recordings so that visitors from all over the world will be able to get perspectives about war from Nebraskans.

You don’t have to be a senator to contribute to the LOC. Anyone who uses the library’s field kit, which can be downloaded on the VHP’s website, can interview a veteran and submit the material to the LOC. If you know a veteran who fought in war, or someone who supported them during wartime, I encourage you to take the time to interview them for the VHP. Their invaluable stories will not only be archived for their posterity, but they will also serve as a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.