Honoring New York State's veteran population, the State Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) has initiated a program to record the personal histories of New York State veterans who served in the military during World War II. The DMNA will use state-of-the-art digital video technology to conduct and record interviews with veterans as well as convert existing video and audio footage of interviews compiled by outside sources into a digitized database available for military historians and social history researchers.
Working in conjunction with many veterans organizations across the state, the oral history program will initially focus on the service of World War II veterans and then expand to include active and reserve component forces that served in the post-World War II years in times of peace and war.
Assemblyman Thomas Alfano explains, "These interviews will enhance our understanding and appreciation of our veterans and our involvement in World War II. This is a wonderful and highly relevant project that honors and preserves the memories of our proud veterans."
Richard M. Pedro, Department Adjutant for the American Legion, Department of New York said, "The American Legion highly commends Governor Pataki and this program to promote the oral histories of World War II veterans, depicting their accounts of their experiences during that defining period in America's past. These accounts should be made available for posterity. Future generations will benefit from the video narration of their ancestors and the sacrifices they suffered to ensure America's greatness."
Dr. Stephen E. Ambrose, noted historian and founder of the National D-Day Museum said, "To do digital video based interviews with World War II veterans, to preserve them on CD-Rom and to make them available to researchers and the general public is a wonderful thing. What priceless memories the veterans have, what a marvelous way to hear their stories, what a boon to students whether in elementary or high school or in college. What the state of New York is doing will provide contact with the World War II veterans for today's children and for children yet to be born. There is no better way for those kids to learn the values of teamwork, patriotism, courage, and sacrifice."
Thomas Bennet, Elmont VFW commander noted, "This project will be cherished by New Yorkers for years to come. Veterans like myself will be able to record their thoughts and experiences. Historians and students will be able to learn about the armed conflicts that many in our community were involved with."
World-renowned documentary film-maker Ken Burns commends the project as, "making an extraordinary contribution to all of American history and particularly, to the heroism and memory of those who sacrificed everything in the world's most costly and tragic cataclysm - World War II. Most tell history from the "top down," ignoring the huge contributions from ordinary people who in a democracy always make a difference. This is different. This is a history from the "bottom up" and it will be an invaluable resource for generations to come."
Assemblyman Alfano encourages all interested veterans to get involved, "This is a wonderful opportunity for veterans to tell their stories."
New York State veterans interested in participating in the oral history program should call 1-800-955-2971 to secure preliminary information to assist DMNA staff in scheduling the interview. Veterans can also contact the DMNA through the agency's web site at http://www.dmna.state.ny.us.