By Kimberly Brigance
Heritage Sandy Springs
Heritage Sandy Springs and the Library of Congress are waging war on historical amnesia by recording the memories of area veterans.
On the eve of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln invoked the power of memory, offering this plea to a fractured nation: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Oral history adds richness to the “mystic chords of memory.” Oral history can bring us close to the experience of the concussions of an artillery barrage, the intense camaraderie with others upon whom your life depends, the fear that comes with being under siege or the uncertainty of waiting at home for a loved one to return.
But collecting those stories is a daunting task because it takes many veterans years and substantial emotional strength to speak openly about their traumas. Another challenge exists because the principal raw material of oral history — the veterans themselves — is depleting rapidly. There are almost 19 million war veterans living in the nation today, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but 1,600 die every day.
The Library of Congress created the Veterans History Project to coordinate and expand a national repository of veterans’ oral histories and writings.
Heritage Sandy Springs (HSS) is partnering with the Library of Congress to record the stories of veterans and those who supported them on the home front. HSS is collecting stories, photos and memorabilia from the Revolutionary War to the present.
If you would like to share your memories or contribute information about a dead veteran, stop by the oral history information table at the Veterans Day Salute on Nov. 9. Fill out a card with your information, and a volunteer will contact you within a few weeks.
A copy will remain in the HSS archive, and the original will go to the Library of Congress in Washington.