Making History Project
"Preserving Veterans' Stories"
501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

Oral History Presentations Archive

War and Trauma Discussion

War and Trauma: Dialogues on the Experience of War

On November 6, 2017, I am honored to help lead a class discussion on war and trauma at Governor’s State University in Chicago. This coursework is the result of winning a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant topic is for the Dialogues on the Experience of War.

Veteran Oral History

Veterans oral history projects are a natural fit for such topics as they necessarily develop and encourage discussion concerning war experiences. Outside of preservation and access, one mission of the Making History Project is to compare and contrast combat veteran trauma across the generations and conflicts. Of special interest are the similarities and differences, if any, amongst combat veterans from different conflicts. The goal is to better understand combat trauma and hopefully contribute in some way to the research of this under-developed topic.

Combat Trauma Studies

The course itself at Governor’s State University is completely unique to this genre. Students will be learning about combat trauma across the generations from World War I to the present through literature, poetry, film, and oral history. Best of all, there are five Veterans participating in the class as team leaders to help stimulate additional thought and discussion by sharing their own insights and experiences.

The course yearns to be an immersive experience in which all participants are sure to grow and develop a greater appreciation for what military veterans go through in the service of their country. In the end, the course will culminate with a veteran town hall in which students, team leaders, and members of the public will discuss what they learned and what it means to them.

I am looking forward to meeting the class and sharing what I have gleaned from the oral histories that I have taken. I imagine we will have a very interesting and stimulating discussion. Perhaps this passion will rub off and some students will decide to engage in their own oral history projects to preserve our past for future generations.

17-11 NEH War and Trauma Poster for Governor's State

 

Veterans Oral History NEH Grant

NEH GrantVeterans Oral History Program

I am pleased to announce that a coveted grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was awarded to a Veterans oral history program that I will be working with. Specifically, the NEH grant for Dialogues on the Experience of War was awarded to Governors State University for a program titled “War, Trauma, and the Humanities”. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Andrae Marak, and Rosemary Johnsen, will be the co-directors for the project.

Oral History Training and Presentation

My immediate role for this veterans oral history project will be to train students on how to conduct and interpret veteran oral history interviews as they relate to war, trauma, and memory. Additionally, I will be called upon to present World War II veteran oral history interviews that address combat-related trauma.

Combat Trauma and Memory

The project will focus on the ways in which members of the military experience trauma–lived and remembered, on and off the field of battle. To that end, the project will include an intensive eight-week college course covering the experiences of veterans and trauma across the conflicts of World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and the Iraq/Afghanistan. The course work will focus on primary sources, historical novels, poetry, and feature films. Five students who are military veterans will be selected to assist with the college course. The veteran students will share their experience while also helping to present materials and moderate discussions.

Town Hall for Understanding and Healing

The end of the project will feature a video and audio taped town hall meeting in which the five veteran students, class members, professors, local veterans, and interested members of the public will interact and engage in a lively discussion concerning the topics covered in the class. The town hall meeting will be aired on the public television station run by Governors State University, which has an audience of approximately one million viewers.

If you would like more information concerning this unique and important work, feel free to contact me.

Day Three: 508 PIR Association Reunion

508PIR Banquet

Rock Merritt and Ernie Lawson

Oral History Presentation

Veterans Day is the perfect day to share an update for last Saturday’s events at the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment Association Reunion.  On that day, I conducted an audio and video presentation to the membership.  My presentation focused on the progress of my oral history interviews and why preserving the legacy of all Veterans is important.  After my presentation, I filmed a panel discussion of 508 PIR Veterans and current service members.  The panel discussion focused on comparing and contrasting experiences and military service across the different eras.

508 PIR Oral History Interviews

Continuing that busy day, I later had the privilege to complete two oral history interviews.  The first interview was with Brodie Hand, a World War II Veteran who served in 508 Company C, 82nd Airborne Division.  Corporal Hand participated in the Normandy campaign as a paratrooper and subsequently was captured and became a POW for the rest of the war.  The second interview was with Justin Graham, an active duty service member with the 508 PIR, 82nd Airborne.  SSG Graham has been deployed three times to Afghanistan, in 2010, 2012, and 2014.  It was fantastic that these two heroes took the time to speak with me.  I was equally delighted to be able to compare and contrast a World War II Veteran with a current soldier.  What I can say definitively is that they both love their country, want the best for their country, and believe in the duty, honor, and respect.

508 PIR Dinner Banquet

The 508 PIR Association Reunion concluded that evening with a wonderful dinner banquet and was attended by a color guard of the 82nd Airborne as well as by many of active duty service members in their “dress blues”.  Looking forward to more good times next year when we meet again in Fort Bragg for the 2017 Reunion.  Airborne all the way!

 

508 PIR Oral History Inteview for Brodie Hand

CPL Brodie Hand

 

508 PIR oral history interview for Justin Graham

SSG Justin Graham