Veterans History Project
Veterans History Project
There is perhaps no better way to learn about history than through firsthand accounts. You get a better understanding of what really happened when you hear directly from those who lived through the events. That’s what the Veterans History Project (VHP)—an initiative that aims to preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans—seeks to do.
Since the VHP was approved by Congress in 2000, over 100,000 veterans have described their service in audio and video recordings that are now part of the collection. Submissions have been archived from veterans of World War I through Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. These men and women participated and witnessed some pivotal events in our nation’s history.
Arkansans have a long and proud history of supporting our nation’s military. More than 250,000 veterans call Arkansas home, however only 1,200 Arkansas veterans’ stories are part of the VHP collection. I want to make sure this collection includes examples of courage, bravery and service of as many Arkansans who have worn our nation’s uniform as possible.
Many of us have family members and friends who have served in the Armed Forces. Capturing and preserving their memories is a great way to honor their service and commitment to our country.
For more information on how you can participate in the Veterans History Project, visit http://www.loc.gov/vets
Featured VHP Submissions
The late Colonel James (Jim) Elmer was a Vietnam veteran who also served as commander of the Little Rock Air Force Base during his 30-year career in the U.S. Air Force. He had several assignments during his military career, one of which was serving as a navigator on C-130s during the Vietnam War. “Our job was to fly and take off when the sun went down and land when the sun came up,” Elmer said. “We were making this place light up like daylight.” These operations became known as “Blind Bat.” The C-130 crews would drop flares to detect the enemy’s movements so bombers would know where to strike. He was a member of the Military Order of the World Wars and served one term as National Commander. He also shared his patriotism with Arkansas fifth graders as a teacher of flag education and etiquette.
Korean War veteran Clement (Clem) Kordsmeier grew up on his family's farm in Morrilton, Arkansas. By 1952, Kordsmeier had received two draft deferments while helping his dad on the farm. This prompted his decision to enlist in the Air Force before being drafted into the Army. He attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. It was the first time he’d left Arkansas. “I was shocked at the very poor quality of barracks,” he laughed. “It was quite different from home.” Kordsmeier shared his memories of his military service in this interview.