PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Sec. of State Alexi Giannoulias wants military veterans statewide to share their stories, photos and mementos for future generations as part of the Illinois Veterans History Project.
The project is a state initiative launched in response to the national effort of the Library of Congress that collects, preserves and makes accessible first-hand recollections of veterans and civilians who served the five military branches.
Giannoulias, as the state’s librarian, runs the office that administers the drive.
“It is an honor to commemorate the brave Americans who have served our country,” he said. “Our state’s Veterans History Project shines a spotlight on veteran voices and serves as a permanent record for Illinois veterans to memorialize their experiences and contributions to ensure they are not forgotten.”
Currently, more than 6,700 records from Illinois veterans have been submitted as part of the program, including 675 oral histories, dating from the Civil War to those serving on active duty.
Given that many veterans are aging, he’s asking family members to help with the effort to preserve memories by uploading photos and other mementos.
“Veterans are often reluctant to tell their stories of heroism, so it’s up to us to ask, listen and make sure they are heard,” he said.
Giannoulias encourages the public to visit www.idaillinois.org and search Veterans History Project to view submissions, which can be searched by name, war and hometown of veterans who have submitted materials.
Oral history interviews are also available on the project’s YouTube Page.
Veterans and civilians and their families are encouraged to share oral histories, photos, memoirs, obituaries, letters, service records and more to be preserved in the project.
To submit an entry, visit www.ilsos.gov/veteranshistoryproject and complete and submit an Illinois Patriot Information Form to the Illinois State Library.
Completed forms can be submitted electronically to email@example.com or by mail to the Illinois State Library, 300 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701−1796.
Stories and mementos from veterans of all ages, whether they saw conflict or not, are welcome.
Any civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts, including war industry workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers and more, are encouraged to submit their experiences and memories.
For more information about the Illinois Veterans History Project, call (800) 665-5576 – ext. 4, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.ilsos.gov/veteranshistoryproject.
The Democrat also announced he is forming a Veterans Advisory Board to help with issues important to veterans and to ensure Illinois veterans are aware and take advantage of the programs and services his office offers.