April 15, 2010


By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

How many heroes do you know? Probably more than you think. They are all around us. They are America's veterans and, sadly, we too rarely hear their amazing stories of sacrifice and selfless service. The unprecedented security, prosperity and freedoms that Americans have today were borne out of the principles in the Declaration of Independence and the system of limited, representative government set out in the Constitution. Ever since, it has been the American military service member who has done the job of protecting and defending our country to preserve the blessings of its founding and allow for its continued success.

Too few of us fully understand the sacrifices made by our nation's heroes, and too many of their stories are increasingly lost with America's greatest generation of World War II service members. Fortunately, the Veterans History Project is making it easier to pass an understanding of the sacrifice made for us to each new generation. This project was created by Congress and the President in 2000 and "collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans" from all U.S. conflicts, beginning with World War II. It also helps ensure that future generations are not limited to textbook accounts or perspectives of these conflicts.

In addition to helping us and new generations learn of their sacrifice, this project also gives us access to the many amazing stories of all the individual heroes from conflicts past and present. Many veterans are heroes who live among us without our even knowing, and, sadly, many of them are advancing in age. We must continue to gather their stories and memories. For various reasons, some rarely offer to tell their stories unless asked. The Veterans History Project is helping encourage them to record their memories and make their stories available for all who want to hear. And the project offers convincing evidence that there are many Americans who want to learn their stories and hear their memories.

I recently joined with Senator Jim Risch to introduce S. Res. 340, which passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent. This Resolution asks the Senate to designate a week where Americans can promote the recording of the stories of veterans' service during U.S. conflicts. Senator Risch and I urge all Idahoans to help record the wartime and service histories of our veterans. This year, with the help of Idaho volunteers, the Idaho Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa recorded its 500th veteran's history for the Idaho Veterans History Project and was honored in Washington, D.C., by the Library of Congress.

Everyone should go to the Veterans History Project website at http://www.loc.gov/vets/vets-home.html or the Warhawk Air Museum at www.warhawkairmuseum.org to read some of these great veteran stories. There are stories of valor, courage, sacrifice and selfless service. You will find happy stories and sad stories, touching stories and humorous stories. But, most of all, these stories will make you feel pride in your country and gratitude for those who have served. Everyone who knows a veteran, and veterans themselves, can go to the Veterans History Project website to sign up and enter as many new veterans' histories as we can to preserve them for history and posterity.

I have personally recorded Idaho veterans' histories and am a proud supporter of the Veterans History Project because it allows us to learn about and honor the great sacrifices made by the heroes who live among us and to whom we owe so much; and it helps us remember their stories and pass them on to future generations. For more information, you can also go to my website, at http://crapo.senate.gov.

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