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The Oral History Project: Making sure vets sacrifices aren't forgotten

As we get ready to celebrate Memorial Day, the Palm Springs Air Museum is working to make sure the sacrifices of our brave men and women are not forgotten.
It's called the Oral History Project.

"Everybody has different stories, different locations, different enemies," said Veteran Ken Woodward.

More than 16 million Americans served in World War II.  The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates over a million are still alive, able to tell us just what they did for our country.

"They are stories that probably have never been told before," said David Thompson, coordinator for the Oral History coordinator.

That's why the Palm Springs Air Museum started the Oral History Project.  The goal is to document as many veteran's stories as it can before they're lost to history forever.

"We got the old VHS cameras that you put on your shoulder and we started like that," said Thompson.

Since 2000, they've collected nearly 800 interviews, interviews that are now a part of the Library of Congress.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is now one of hundreds of organizations working to document America's combat history.  It's not just WWII, but all wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We will even go to people's homes, I went down to Newport last year and interviewed somebody," said Thompson.

Thompson took many of the interviews and edited short movies together.  Several of them play in kiosks all throughout the museum so people who visit can learn about America's history from the people who were there.

"We turned the tide in the war and sent those North Koreans back over the 38th parallel," said Woodward.

Ken Woodward piloted planes in both WWII and The Korean War.

"It's fun to kind of reminisce, remember all of the things that you did, all of the friends you had.  You never forget those guys," said Woodward.

All of the interviews are done by trained volunteers, and it takes time.  Interviews can last anywhere from a few minutes to 6 or 7 hours long.

"It always kind of tugs your heartstrings when they start to break down when they maybe will be talking about their best friend who died in their arms," said Thompson.

As difficult as it may be, Thompson says it's part of our history.

"I think it's important that we let them know how much we appreciate what they've done for our country," said Thompson.

All of the interviews are available to watch at the Palm Springs Air Museum and the Library of Congress's website.

If you yourself or you know someone who would like to be interviewed, you can call the Air Museum at 760) 778-6262.

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