Written by Brad Miller, Graduate Assistant
The past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of working with the Middle Tennessee Oral History Project. While the project includes oral histories from faculty and alumni of Middle Tennessee State University, the majority of the oral histories are collected from veterans throughout Middle Tennessee. As a partner of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, the Gore Center has conducted hundreds of interviews with veterans who served in any conflict between World War Two and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With the recent passing of Veterans Day on Monday, I wanted to stop and reflect upon the memories of our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our country. While sorting through the various folders, it was hard not to periodically stop and read over a veteran’s brief biography or skim through the text of their interview. The veteran’s stories are captivating and provide a great tool for researchers to gain a personal perspective on a historical event or era. It was also a humbling experience to see the number of medals awarded and the extensive service provided by the veterans of Middle Tennessee. For example, William Benedict served in World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam before retiring from the United States Army at the rank of Colonel. Benedict’s oral history provides insight into three very different conflicts in which the United States was involved.
The Veterans History Project offers broad qualifications in defining a veteran. Men who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, Khe Sahn, or Baghdad certainly constitute a veteran, but it took a nation to win a war. Individuals on the front lines and on the home front sacrificed everything in the efforts to achieve victory. Whether they were firing a rifle, flying a plane, working in a factory, or worrying about a son, Americans across Middle Tennessee and the United States sacrificed a part of their life, if not all of it.
The following pictures from the Middle Tennessee Oral History Project reflect this diversity of service.
The Gore Center has numerous oral histories from Middle Tennessee veterans, but the Veterans History Project is continually seeking veterans and their stories to add to the thousands of memories they have already compiled. In the words of Uncle Sam, “I Want You!” So if you, or someone you know would like to contribute, please contact the Albert Gore Research Center for more information.