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Race Is On to Record WWII Vets’ Histories

By Paul Boger | Published 27 Nov 2013 08:30am | comments

In the US, more than 600 World War 2 veterans die every day. MPB's Paul Boger reports there's a group of Mississippians racing against the clock to record the stories of what many call "the greatest generation."

According the US Department of Veterans Affairs, there are still more than a million World War 2 veterans living in the US, but their numbers are declining. That's why there has been an intense effort in recent years to gather the stories of those individuals; before they're all gone. 

G. Mark Francis is an author, veteran and a volunteer working to gather those stories. He says it's important for future generations to hear about the sacrifice, courage and patriotism associated with the Second World War.

"These stories need to be heard by others not just veterans, not just by their families, but by the community at large, by non-veterans, by the public and by young people." said LaFrancis. "So that they can understand what these people accomplished to be honorably called the greatest generation."

As part of the Veterans of Foreign Wars oral history program, historians and other select volunteers are going around the state and speaking to veterans about their experiences, before and after the war.

Carol Andersen is with the state humanities council -- the group funding the project in Mississippi. She says it's important to hear people tell their own story in their own voice.

"Hearing a person's voice is powerful." said Andersen. "Reading words is important too, but hearing is so powerful in connecting a person today to the history that came before them. We think that as a humanities council it's extremely important for folks to understand their history to understand their present lives.

Germain Levy is World War II veteran from Mississippi. Nearly 90, he's a man of few words, but he's happy people are listening.

"I feel good about it." said Levy. "It's something I did and I just want people to know about it."

All stories collected in the project will be archived at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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