The purpose of the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project is to get every veteran’s story – from the humorous and the heroic to the harrowing.
For years, the Library has collected the stories of the men and women who served from World War I to the nations’ most recent conflicts. It’s personal for project director Karen Lloyd.
Not only is she the child and spouse of a veteran, she’s a veteran herself.
“I would suspect that you have veterans in your communities and you have no idea of their service,” she said. “And that's why it's so important that we seek them out and then listen — really listen — so that they'll tell you their story. And you'd be amazed what you hear from them and, and sometimes it just gives you goosebumps and sometimes you just laugh out loud.”
After she accepted the job in 2016, she sat down and shared her story with the project. She wasn’t prepared and thought it would only take a few minutes. She spoke and recalled her experiences for more than two hours.
The project is dependent on volunteers who go out and record veteran’s stories and share them with the library. This past year alone, Lloyd said the Library of Congress received 3,400 veterans’ accounts of their experiences. Approximately 3,200 came from volunteers.
One volunteer made it his purpose to go to every state and collect a story from Gold Star families to “make sure that their loved one’s stories weren’t lost.” Lloyd said the project is also trying to focus on Gold Star families, as well as the perspective of the spouse, child or parent of a veteran.
She sees Colorado as a “target rich environment,” with an estimated 400,000 veterans here. The project only has about 2,300 interviews from the Centennial State.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet has also been urging Colorado veterans to share their stories of service with him this Veterans Day. He’s posted the responses online as part of a Voices of Colorado Veterans series.
But for Veterans Day, Lloyd has one request: start a conversation with a vet and really listen to them "so that they fully appreciate that you understand the sacrifice that they made through their selfless service."